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The path to parenthood may look very different for California residents. Some may wait until after they are married in order to have children or adopt, while others may prefer to begin their families before they are wed. Whether the two parents to a child are married or not, each generally has rights to spend time with and to support the youth.

However, fathers sometimes face challenges to gain access to their children when they are not legally bound to the mother. For example, the father of Bristol Palin’s newborn daughter recently filed legal paperwork in order to seek child custody of the baby girl, as well as to potentially receive child support from Palin to assist with the child’s care. He and Palin had been engaged in 2015, but called off their wedding shortly before it was planned to occur. Their baby was born shortly before Christmas last year.

When a mother gives birth to a child her parental rights are clear. However, if a child’s father is not present during the mother’s pregnancy and birth, or if there are questions as to the identity of the child’s father, establishing his rights can be more difficult. Although paternity does not appear to be an issue in this current news story, it can be a very relevant subject for unmarried couples who face disagreements over the custody of their children.

The legal system is equipped to assist individuals like Palin and her child’s father. Individuals who face child custody and support questions can work through their differences and emerge with court orders that establish the rights and responsibilities they will have with regard to their kids. As courts seek to serve the best interests of the children whose legal matters come before them, parents generally must be prepared to face outcomes that do not necessarily match their preferences for the custody and support of their kids.

Source: San Jose Mercury News, “Bristol Palin’s baby daddy wants custody rights, child support,” Martha Ross, Jan. 6, 2016