“My unmarried wife can take our baby and leave town and I have no legal say in the matter?”

Pierre Domercq Paternity

It may surprise many North County San Diego residents to learn that more than half of the children born in the United States today come into a family with unmarried parents. The norms have changed, and couples are tending to live together before entering into marriage. This presents an important legal challenge for the unmarried fathers of children born in North County, as a recent urgent call shows:
“What do you mean my unmarried wife can take our baby and leave town and I have no legal say in the matter? I’m on the birth certificate!”
Believe us, we understand the shock and frustration. California family law does not necessarily reflect today’s realities. From a legal perspective a baby born to unmarried parents does not provide equal physical and legal custody to each parent. These legal rights remain with the mother. Legally speaking this means the mother has all of the legal power to make decisions regarding the child’s healthcare, religious practices, education and the physical custody rights to move as she pleases and take the child with her.
The unmarried father has no legal right to visit or spend time with his child or to prevent the mother from moving out of the area with the child unless he asserts his rights before the Court in a legal proceeding known as “Paternity.” It doesn’t matter what forms you filled out in the hospital. The father must obtain orders from the court specifically addressing child custody and parenting time.
Child support is a separate issue. Presently there is no relationship between the payment of child support and custody rights here in California. This only adds fuel to the fire for an unmarried father.
The answer in this case is quite simple, but urgent. Contact the experienced family law attorneys at Burke & Domercq immediately. We can seek an urgent audience with the court asking for a short term order prohibiting the move and asking the court to recognize the paternity of the father and issue appropriate child custody and parenting time orders.
Physical paternity is established through DNA testing which is usually accomplished with a painless swab of the inside of the cheek of the father and the child. Once paternity is established the court will consider the requests of the father, and absent extreme issues such as domestic violence, restraining orders, alcohol or drug addiction or criminal behavior issue appropriate custody orders.
We invite you to review the recommendations of our clients and the legal industry and contact Burke & Domercq or call 760-712-3741 to schedule an immediate appointment.