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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 29822
Experience:  Attorney with experience in family law.
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3 weeks ago my ex-girl friend gave birth to our child. Im

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3 weeks ago my ex-girl friend gave birth to our child. I'm not 100% sure that I am the father. I am fairly sure, but I am going to request a paternity test. I was at her birth and have offered to help. She has been very uncooperative with visitation. I want to spend as much time with the baby as I can. I live in CA. What are my rights to visitation / custody?

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today.

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California law starts with the presumption that a child benefits from having a relationship with both parents. Cal. Fam. Code, Section 3040(a)(1). What the judge is interested in is what is in the best interests of the child. That encompasses a variety of factors, including the age and health of each parent, the living situation, the ability to parent, the relationship between each parent and the child, whether there is any history of drug or alcohol abuse, domestic violence, or a violent criminal history on the part of either parent, and any other factor that the judge finds relevant. As long as you are established as the child's father, you have a right to spend time with the child and develop a relationship. Where possible, joint custody is often preferred. If joint custody is not possible, or not something you are able to do, you are still able to get an order that will allow visitation with the child.

Until there is a court order in place, however, the default is that the person in possession of the child has no legal obligation to give the child to the other parent. So, the best way to assert your rights is to bring an action to determine parentage and establish a custody arrangement. Here is more information on the process.

If you're not sure, it is very important not to agree to care for the child, sign the birth certificate, or otherwise ackowledge paternity. Those types of declarations can turn out to be binding on a person, even if he is later determined not to be the father. So, the best thing is usually to determine paternity as soon as possible. That way, you can develop a plan to care for the child going forward. You can also ask your local child support agency to help you.

If you have any questions at all about what I've written, please reply so that I may address them. It's important to me that you are 100% satisfied with the service I provide. Otherwise, please rate my service at 3-5 faces/stars so that I get credit for helping you today. Thank you.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I have a good job, my own place a very supportive family, do I have a right to joint physical custody
There is no automatic right to joint custody. However, public policy favors joint custody. If both you and the mother can establish that you are able to provide a stable, supportive home for the child, that gives you a very strong argument in favor of joint custody. For her to defeat your request, she would have to show something other than just not wanting you to spend time with your child. If you don't have any sort of criminal history, drug abuse history, or other negative factors that weigh against joint custody, there is a good chance that you will be able to get some sort of shared custody arrangement.
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