Establishing Paternity in the State of California
If you’re a resident of California, you probably know that it’s one of the most progressive states in the US. This holds true for its stance with family law. California’s legislators are trying to keep up with non-traditional families and their needs, especially where paternity laws are concerned.
At Strong Family Law, we can handle these complex family law matters. We have multiple years of experience dealing with paternity cases and can assist you through it.
Paternity, Child Custody, and Visitation
In the simplest of terms, “paternity” means being a father or the state of fatherhood. If unwed couples have children, you should establish the paternity of the father as soon as you can after the child’s birth. This will protect the baby, the mother, and most importantly, the father. This is especially true where child custody and visitation rights are concerned. By establishing paternity, it greatly reduces the risk of a judge denying those rights or any others that the father may be legally entitled to.
The establishment of paternity also ensures that a child will receive benefits from the father such as disability, healthcare, life insurance, and survivor’s benefits. However, keep in mind that both parents have a legal responsibility for their children as well as their support whether or not the parents were legally married. Even if the child was not wanted or the father left prior to the child’s birth, he is still responsible for supporting that child. Having paternity acknowledged is vital to being awarded child support.
The terms “parentage” and “parental relationship” are generally used interchangeably. The establishment of paternity simply means that the child’s parents or the courts have determined who the father of the child is. The law establishes the father’s identity in one of two following ways:
- It is presumed that the husband of the mother is the father of the child if and when the child is born while married.
- If the man is committed to the child and has been living with the mother and child in a family-like environment, the presumption is that he is the father of the child whether or not he is actually the true biological father.
If these two circumstances do not exist, the couple will have to establish paternity and we can help you with that process.
2 Ways Paternity can be Established
Paternity is usually established in one of two ways. First, it can be done voluntarily by the father and mother by signing a “Voluntary Declaration of Paternity.” If the mother is unmarried when she gives birth, she and the father must be given information about this document. In order to acknowledge that they are the parents and that the father is the biological father, both must sign the document. We can assist you through the process and it is best to have your interests protected by and represented by an experienced legal expert.
Secondly, paternity can also be established by a court action. According to state law, the following agencies or individuals can approach the court and ask for a paternity order:
- an adoption agency
- the county child support department that is providing the mother with services
- the man who is the father or has been identified as such
- the mother
Under these circumstances, it’s always advisable to consult with a family law attorney. For more information regarding paternity issues, please contact Strong Family Law today. We will be glad to assist you through the complex legal procedures and help you every step of the way.