I have been asked what rights each parent has if the child is born out of wedlock.
Once upon a time it was unheard of to have children when a couple was not married. It was frowned upon; it was considered to be a “sin.” It was not that long ago when babies followed marriage and couples would marry upon discovery that the woman was pregnant.
Today is different. Society has changed. Today we have the largest number of unwed parents in our history, including many celebrities, such as Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Although society has accepted this trend, the law has not. It may not affect multi-millionaire unwed celebrity parents, but it does have an adverse effect on the average unwed parent.
It used to be when a girl got pregnant, the dad would call for a “shotgun” wedding – insist that the boy marry his daughter or else. Today, very few know what that expression means, let alone attend one.
Things have changed in society – many individuals are putting off marriage until a later date or not considering it at all. Living together without a marriage license seems to be ‘in’ these days. There are still couples committed to each other, but not in marriage.
Having a child out of wedlock can present legal ramifications, the most important being financial obligations and custody issues.
Having a child presents financial issues, such as child support, childcare, medical insurance. This does not only apply to the mother, but also to the father, especially when the couple brings a child into this world but they are not married – maybe they’re living together, maybe they’re not.
In the case of a couple that isn’t totally committed to each other, the father might be unwilling to pay child support; maybe he’s not sure the child is his. The paternity must first be established.
When a relationship doesn’t work out, the couple must go to court to establish custody, both legal and physical. This may cause all sorts of disputes, such as the lifestyle of one or both parents, the ability of each parent to care for the child. California courts apply the same criteria for custody disputes between unmarried parents as they do with married, but divorcing parents. The best interests of the child are the number one priority of the court.
Parentage cases can lead to expensive battles between the parents. If you are choosing to have a child out of wedlock to avoid financial or legal battles – think again.
If you have questions about raising a child out of wedlock, contact the Family Law offices of Holstrom, Block & Parke because out attorneys are dedicated to protecting your parental rights while helping you make decisions that are in the best interests of your child.
Call today for a free phone consultation: we have offices in Riverside, Orange, and San Bernardino Counties.