Legal Question in Family Law in California

I am not married and about to give birth to my first child. The father and I are not together. He wants to be apart of the baby's life but I don't find him fit to be a parent with his lifestyle. Do I have the right as the mother to make a list of things that I want to happen in order for him to even be around his daughter, and if he violates any of it I would take all visitation away?

Asked on 4/20/21, 7:28 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Timothy McCormick Haapala, Thompson & Abern, LLP

First off you need to understand that visitation is a right of the child to have a relationship with both their parents. It is also a right of each parent to have a relationship with their child. The courts only concern in custody and visitation is "the best interests of the minor child." [exact wording of the law]. So you can write up and demand anything you want, but if the court does not agree and/or does not put it in a custody and visitation order, it is unenforceable.

There are some things most courts will automatically put in as conditions, or will put in automatically on request, such as no bad mouthing the other parent, no legal drugs or alcohol during custodial time, no illegal drugs at all. Drug testing is a "search and seizure" issue; so there has to be proof of illegal drug use in the recent past before testing can be ordered, but it's not proof beyond a reasonable doubt because it's not a criminal case. Other requirements and restrictions are decided on a case by case basis. The courts will generally include anything the parties agree on, as long as it's not something the court would be unable to enforce, or could result in the parties constantly coming back to court to argue about whether there is compliance or not, or are just too petty for the court to care.

I recommend that you contact a family law attorney in your area now to get the ball rolling on the paternity, custody, visitation and support process. If you can't afford one, and you and the father are cooperating, you may be able to do it yourself with some guidance from the Placer County Superior Court's Self-Help Center and Family Court Services. Here's their web site: Also, the Department of Child Support Services will help establish paternity and child support for free, but they are not authorized to set up the custody and visitation plan, or any of the details and conditions you might want.

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Answered on 4/22/21, 9:19 am

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