Understanding Your Rights After a Custody Hearing in a California Paternity Case
“Have I received temporary child custody orders or a final judgment?
I am currently in a parentage case in CA. I have been told (by a judge) I am a presumed father and was given an (FL 340) order after hearing for visitation, Father’s Day, vacations, phone calls etc.
On one hand I have been told if there is not a judgment saying I am the father or legal parent then I am just a third party.
On the other hand, I’m being told I am a parent because if I wasn’t I would not have custody or visitation etc.
Am I legally a parent or is this just temporary until a judgment is made or is this the judgment?
I am being treated as if I am not a parent. Mother will not let me be apart of our child’s life (school, events, talking on the phone, going places with him, doctors, etc).
I am confused by all of this. I don’t know my rights but I want to continue being a father to our child and raise him and help care for him in all aspects as I have since he was born.
Your confusion is understandable.
WHAT WAS SERVED ON YOU
Based on your questions it is clear you were served with a summons (Judicial Council Form FL-210), parentage action petition (Judicial Council Form FL-200) which is also known as a paternity petition and a request for orders regarding child custody(Judicial Council Form FL-300) If you filed a response to a parentage petition, form FL-220 and you indicated you are the father (I infer you did) then you are not disputing parentage which means the court has given you temporary custody orders which include a visitation schedule. If you filed nothing and showed up in court for the hearing on temporary orders for custody and admitted you’re the father you have the same result.
WHAT THE COURT HAS DONE TO DATE
The court has jurisdiction to make orders re custody and child support because the child lives in the county in which the court made the orders. It can do this whether or not you filed a response to the petition.
You are correct these are temporary orders and the court retains jurisdiction to alter the parenting schedule, custody and child support orders until the child turns 18.
WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS PRESENTLY AND WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
Every law case has a beginning a middle and an end. In family law a case begins with a summons and petition served on the respondent. Then the court may and in your case did issue temporary orders after the mother sought them using a FL-300 request for orders. I assume you did not file a response to the FL-300 which is form FL-320.
You should look at your FL-340. It appears from your questions that section 1 Child custody and visitation is checked. On the subsequent page there should be a form FL-341: child custody and visitation attachment. FL-341 should list your parenting time and IMPORTANTLY will indicate whether you and the mother share legal custody, or she has sole legal custody.
If you share legal custody you can provide a copy of the FL-340 to your child’s school to be included on the school’s contact sheet and you can receive report cards, attend parent teacher conferences, etc. Similarly, you have a right to contact and receive info from healthcare providers for your child.
If the mother has legal custody then you don’t officially have the right to the school data or medical data.
You can file your own FL-300 seeking an order that you are informed of school and medical information. Similarly, you can file your own FL-300 asking the court to compel the mother to comply with the FL-3440 regarding visitation and phone calls.
As I said at the beginning every lawsuit has a beginning a middle and an end. The end will be a formal judgment of paternity. That judgment package must be submitted to the court by one or both of the parties.
Did you file a FL-220? If not the mother may have applied and received a default from the court which precludes you from filing motions.
It seems clear you weren’t represented at the hearing. You probably need to spend a little money and have an attorney review your FL-340 and your case history and earlier pleadings on a limited scope services basis and explain your status and rights. Limited scope work such as I have described above is easy to obtain and relatively inexpensive.
If the mother sought and obtained a default you will need to hire a lawyer to attempt to extricate you from the default as that is beyond the ability of a layperson to accomplish by themselves.
If you find yourself with similar questions about your case, give us a call for a free consultation at 310 282 7521 or contact us here.