What Are the Parental Rights in California Family Law?

18Mar, 24

Parental rights serve as the cornerstone of family law, particularly when it comes to determining child custody. These rights are legally recognized and protected to ensure that parents have the proper authority and responsibility necessary to raise their children in all aspects of their lives. Many parents undergoing a divorce or child custody battle are uncertain where they stand in the eyes of the court and may be asking what are the parental rights in California family law?

What Are My Parental Rights?

In the state of California, each parent is entitled to certain rights pertaining to the care, custody, and upbringing of their child. Some of these rights include the following:

  • Physical Custody and Visitation: Parents maintain the legal right to physical custody of their children. This includes determining where they live and how/where they spend their time. Even if the parents do not live together, each will still maintain visitation rights in order to have regular contact with their children.
  • Decision-Making Authority: Parents have the right and authority to make important decisions concerning the crucial aspects of their child’s life. This includes decisions regarding their healthcare, education, religious upbringing, and overall well-being.
  • Financial Support: Parents are responsible for providing their children with financial support. The custodial parent also has the right to seek necessary financial assistance from the other non-custodial parent if the situation calls for child support.
  • Legal Representation: Parents maintain the right to proper legal representation in any legal matters concerning their parental rights, particularly in cases pertaining to child custody.

Every parent in California is entitled to certain rights when it comes to the overall responsibility, upbringing, contact, and well-being of their child. If your parental rights are being challenged by your co-parent, then it is essential that you contact a trustworthy family law attorney near you to guide you through your options and ensure that your parental rights are legally upheld.

How Do I Establish Parental Rights?

In California, parental rights can be established at various points in the child’s life, depending on the specific circumstances. Here are some examples of when parental rights can be established for certain parents:

  • Mothers: The mother automatically gains parental rights upon giving birth to their child.
  • Fathers: A married father automatically gains parental rights upon their wives giving birth to their child.
  • Unmarried Fathers: Unmarried fathers are required to take additional steps to establish parental rights, such as being listed as the legal father on the child’s birth certificate or through other legal means of establishing paternity.
  • Adopted Parents: Parental rights can be legally acquired through the process of adoption in order to formally recognize the relationship between parent and child.

Can I Lose My Parental Rights?

Although the rights of every parent are fundamental, that does not mean that they cannot be terminated under certain circumstances. According to California family laws, the following are some of the grounds that can result in the termination of parental rights:

  • Abuse or Neglect: Parents who abuse or neglect their children may have their parental rights terminated by the court to protect the child’s safety and well-being.
  • Voluntary Relinquishment: Parents may choose to voluntarily relinquish their parental rights, particularly in cases of adoption or stepparent adoption.
  • Substance Abuse: Parents who struggle with substance abuse issues may have their parental rights terminated if it is determined to be detrimental to the child’s welfare.
  • Felony Conviction: Parents who are convicted of certain felonies may lose their parental rights if the court deems it necessary to protect the child.
  • Mental or Physical Incapacity: Parents who are deemed mentally or physically incapable of caring for their children may have their parental rights terminated.

How Can I Protect My Parental Rights in a Child Custody Case?

It’s critical to seek trusted legal representation to protect your parental rights during and after a child custody battle. Consulting with an experienced Riverside family law attorney can significantly help you advocate for your parental rights and provide you with effective representation in court to ensure that the interests of your child and your relationship with them are fought for.

Aside from seeking experienced legal representation, it’s highly recommended that you keep detailed documentation and records of your involvement in your child’s life. You should also keep a record of relevant communication with the other parent, demonstrate your willingness to cooperate with the court and emphasize your total commitment to the interests of the child. Doing all of these things can ultimately help you and your child achieve the most favorable possible outcome.


Q: How Long Does a Father Have to Be Absent to Lose His Parental Rights in California?

A: In California, if a father or any parent has not had any contact with their child for a period of six months or more and has not exercised any of their parental rights during that period of time, then it is considered parental abandonment. A parent can forfeit their parental rights if parental abandonment is shown.

Q: What Are Legal Parental Rights in California?

A: There are many parental rights in California. Every parent has the legal right to provide for the care, custody, companionship, and management of their child. They also have the legal right to make health and educational decisions for their child, as well as maintain regular contact with them, even if the children do not live with them.

Q: How Can a Mother Lose Custody in California?

A: There are several ways that a mother can, ultimately, lose custody of their child in California. One of the most common ways to lose custody is general neglect of the child’s welfare or failure to provide basic needs, such as food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, and education. Other ways a mother can lose custody are by substance abuse, violence in any form (physical, mental, verbal, or sexual), or incarceration.

Q: What Are the Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights in California?

A: The exceptions to termination of parental rights in California are if the child is living with a relative who is unwilling or unable to adopt the child, the child is 12 years old or older and objects to the termination, there would be substantial interference with the sibling of the child, the child is living with a foster parent who is unable or unwilling to adopt them, or the child is currently in a residential treatment facility where adoption is unlikely.

Contacting a Reputable Family Law Attorney

At the Law Offices of Michelanne Hrubic, our experienced family law attorney can help you navigate the complexities of your parental rights, child custody, and any other aspects of family law. We understand the emotion involved and the overall importance of every family law case and approach every circumstance with compassion to ensure that your child’s interests are being acted upon.

Contact our team today so we can review your case.

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