Every state has its own formal, legal definition of a father. How father is defined by you and your family may not be the same as the legal definition. However, if you are seeking rights or handling issues in a California court, it is essential to ensure you understand the legal definition. This will ensure you know your rights and can properly represent yourself in a legal proceeding.
The Child Welfare Information Gateway explains the state of California defines a father in a few different ways. In addition, the law does not specify "father" in every case, nor does it limit the parental rights to only two parents.
A legally recognized father is someone who was married to the child's mother when the child was born or within the 300 days before the child was born. In addition, if the mother attempted to marry the person before the child was born or within 300 days of birth, then this also solidifies paternity.
After the child is born, you can agree to have your name on the birth certificate as the father, which makes you the legal father of the child. Do note, you must consent to this. The mother putting your name on the birth certificate without your consent will not make you the legal father. You may also sign a statement and present it to the court that validates paternity. Finally, simply accepting the child as your own, living with the child and taking care of him or her can also secure your status as the legal father. This information is for education and is not legal advice.