Hey Girl, Let’s Have a Gosling

Hey girl, let’s go see that family law attorney together.

Whether or not you’re a swooning Ryan Gosling or Eva Mendes fan, you’ve probably heard the rumors – they’re having a baby…a seriously attractive baby.

It probably won’t shock you to learn that unmarried people who do not live together sometimes have babies. Roughly half of babies in the US are born to women who are not married to the baby’s father. It may surprise unmarried fathers that they would not be recognized as their child’s legal father without voluntary declarations of paternity (often signed in the hospital after the birth) or by establishing parentage through the court.

Paternity actions establish legal parentage of a child whose parents are unmarried.  This creates the right to legal and/or physical custody (or visitation) as well as the obligation to pay child support. Legal parentage usually becomes an issue when there is a disagreement between unmarried parents as to custody, support, or one wants to travel with or get a passport for their child. Paternity proceedings are confidential and records are not publicly accessible.

The court prefers to allow parents to come to their own workable agreement as to custody rather than impose a schedule from the bench. Judges seek to protect the best interests of the child, and California law dictates that a child’s best interests allow for contact with both parents except in certain situations, including where there’s a history of domestic violence or child abuse.

Support is usually established according to a legal formula based on the custody arrangement and income of each parent. Depending on the circumstances of the parents, one party either pays support directly to the other (potentially through a wage assignment), or the county Department of Child Support Services can get involved.

Establishing legal parentage also has positive inheritance and Social Security implications for the child. You can even get pre-birth custody and visitation orders that become enforceable at birth, which can be useful for unmarried, non-cohabitating parents, same sex parents, or with surrogacy arrangements.

So, before openly Canadian Ryan Gosling takes his unconfirmed and theoretically US-born baby to visit relatives back in Canada, he would need to establish legal parentage, either through a voluntary declaration or through a paternity action. Because even if you’re a super cute, Oscar-nominated animal lover and heartthrob, you can’t take a baby that isn’t legally yours across the border (although that could be the plot of an adorable caper movie. Listen up, Hollywood!)

Please consult a family law attorney to discuss whether paternity or pre-birth orders are appropriate in your situation.




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