California Father’s Rights (2024) — What Every Dad Should Know

California Father’s Rights (2024) — What Every Dad Should Know

November 13, 2022

As a state resident, knowing the laws surrounding fathers’ rights is important. After all, paternity tests are becoming increasingly accessible, and more dads are establishing legal ties with their kids than ever before.

When engaging in family law disputes, the state recognizes both parents as equal custodians of the children. This means that each parent has the right to request custody and visitation agreements, which should be respected by both parties involved.

Fathers should also be well-versed in how filing for child support works, familiarizing themselves with the income-based guidelines to calculate the amount they should pay. Though there may be roadblocks relating to child custody decisions or other parenting issues, knowing state-specific laws is essential for ensuring that a father’s rights are fully observed.


Regarding visitation, state laws allow flexible appointment schedules that account for parents’ needs and the child’s age. For example, courts may opt for a visitation schedule that gives the noncustodial parent more time with the child during the weekends or summer months, depending on the situation. Fathers should also be aware that, in most cases, it’s illegal for a custodial parent to prevent another from seeing their child. Violating this law can lead to serious consequences, so it’s important for all parties involved to understand and uphold the laws regarding visitation. An effective visitation arrangement for fathers includes:

  • Creating a schedule based on the child’s age and allowing for frequent contact with both parents.
  • Providing ample opportunity for each parent to be involved in all aspects of the child’s life, such as school, extracurricular activities, religious events, and holidays.
  • Defining any rules or guidelines for visitation in advance and updating them as needed.
  • Planning for transportation arrangements to ensure that the child can visit both parents without undue stress.
  • Establishing an open dialog between parents so issues can be discussed and resolved amicably.

Child Support

A noncustodial parent must also pay child support under the state’s mandated guidelines. Generally, the amount is based on the paying parent’s income, as well as their age and other relevant factors. If a father is found to be in willful contempt of these guidelines, he may face serious repercussions such as fines, jail time, or garnished wages. Therefore, fathers must stay up to date with the most recent child support regulations to avoid any issues. An appropriate child support arrangement for fathers should include:

  • Calculating the required amount according to relevant guidelines and making payments on time.
  • Working with an attorney to ensure that the amount is fair and reasonable.
  • Requesting a review of the support order if one parent experiences a significant change in financial circumstances.
  • Agreeing on an arrangement that does not place too much financial strain on either parent.
  • Understanding the consequences of not paying child support as outlined by the state.

Child Custody

Custody can be determined through an informal agreement between parents or a court order. If the two parties cannot agree, the court will step in and decide based on what is determined to be in the child’s best interest. This may include a physical or legal custody arrangement, which specifies which parent is responsible for making decisions regarding the child’s upbringing. Fathers should be aware that a judge must approve any custody agreement for it to be legally binding. An effective child custody arrangement for fathers should include:

  • Establishing a plan that focuses on the best interest of the child.
  • Having an open dialog with both parents and their respective attorneys about the desired custody arrangement.
  • Designating a primary physical and/or legal custodian for major decisions related to the child’s upbringing.
  • Establishing a visitation schedule that allows for frequent contact with the noncustodial parent.
  • Understanding and abiding by any court orders regarding custody or visitation arrangements.
  • Working with an attorney to ensure that any agreements reached are legally binding and enforceable.


Q: What Rights Does a Father Have to See His Child in California?

A: The state strongly believes in upholding the rights of both parents when it comes to co-parenting and visitation — put simply, fathers have just as much right to see their children as mothers. A father looking to establish his paternity must first obtain court recognition and file for legally established parental rights. From there, a court could order temporary visitation during the process and finalize visitation once paternity is established.

A mother can keep her child away from the father if there is a legitimate fear of danger or harm. However, keep in mind that this is only acceptable on an interim basis and should not be used as a means of excluding the father completely. In many cases, court-ordered visitation may overrule any concerns the mother might have.

Q: Does Child Support Need to Be Paid if the Father Is Unemployed in California?

A: Child support must still be paid even if the father is unemployed. While a court order can require parents to pay child support, it does not guarantee payment. In cases where a father is unemployed, the court may modify or suspend the order to consider his new circumstances. However, this does not relieve him of his financial obligation to the child, and he must remain in contact with the court to work out a payment plan or other arrangement. The court may also consider other sources of income, such as assets or investments when seeking a new payment arrangement.

Q: What Can I Do if My Child Support Payments Are Not Being Paid?

A: If a parent is not paying the court-ordered child support, the custodial parent can file a motion with the court to enforce the existing order. The court may take several actions to ensure compliance, including wage garnishment, revoking driving privileges, or placing liens on the property. In extreme cases, the court may even issue a bench warrant for a parent who has failed to comply with a child support order.

Contact the Edgar & Dow Today

If you are a father seeking to establish his parental rights or fighting for custody, an experienced family law father’s rights attorney must be represented. The experienced family law attorneys at the Edgar & Dow are committed to providing fathers with the representation they need to protect their rights and ensure their voices are heard. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation. Our attorneys will work hard to help you achieve your goals professionally and efficiently.


The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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