For parents in Placer, California, child custody can pose an issue if there is not a father listed on the birth certificate. Close to 40 percent of children are born to mothers who are not married or in a relationship with the child’s father, but most legal systems assume that the parents are married. This makes it difficult with issues like child custody.

There are some states where the mother has initial custody. However, the mother has to file for sole custody, which could mean that the father has the option to file as well if the father wants to be a part of the child’s life at some point. There are other states that automatically provide sole custody to the mother when there is not a father listed on the birth certificate. A judge can order changes in the future if the father decides to file for custody or if the father wants visitation with the child.

Sometimes, the mother might not list the father on the birth certificate because there is a question as to who the father is or there is a concern about the child’s safety. Some states will look at the living situation of the mother and the father before deciding whether the mother has sole custody of the child. Even if the father’s name isn’t listed, he still has rights until a judge orders otherwise if he pursues them.

If a mother decides to exclude the father, then she could consult with a family law attorney who can offer assistance regarding the information that is needed for sole child custody. The attorney might also offer assistance if the father decides to file a claim against the mother as there are laws associated with unwed mothers. An attorney may be able to investigate the laws of the state to determine whether the mother has to officially file for custody or not.