How does paternity work in California? In California, generally, when a child is born to a husband and wife, the husband is presumed to be the child’s father. If a child is born to a woman who does not have a husband, there may be a question as to who is the child’s legal father. In this situation, it may be necessary to establish the child’s paternity.
How do you Establish Paternity in California?
In California, establishing paternity involves having a court make a legal determination as to who is the father of a child.
Generally, there are two ways to establish paternity in California: Voluntarily or through a formal legal process.
1) Voluntary Declaration of Parentage—unmarried parents can sign a voluntary declaration of parentage form to establish a child’s paternity. To be valid, the declaration must be signed by both parents, in the presence of a notary public or certain other individuals, and filed with the appropriate California state office.
2) Petition to Determine the Parental Relationship—when the parties do not agree on paternity, someone seeking to establish paternity can file a petition to determine the parental relationship.
Once the petition to determine the parental relationship is filed, the petitioning party must serve the other and include certain required documents. The other party will then be given time to file a response. The case will be scheduled, and in all likelihood, the male party will be ordered to undergo genetic testing to determine whether he is the child’s father.
Who Can File a California Paternity Action?
The California Law provides that a paternity case may be initiated by:
· A man who believes that the child at issue may be his biological child
· The child’s mother
· The child (age 12 and older)
· The child’s representative
· Certain agencies
· Any other interested party
Without a formal paternity determination, someone alleged to be the child’s father will not be obligated to pay support or have custodial rights. In addition to custody, child support, and visitation, establishing parentage is important because it will allow a child to inherit from their parent and be eligible for certain government benefits. In addition, the child can access family and medical records, have health coverage through their parent, and be named a life insurance beneficiary.
Paternity cases can become contentious, especially if a party is denying parentage. Once paternity is established, the legal parents will then have to manage child support and legal and physical custody. In this situation, it’s in your best interest to work with an experienced California family law attorney throughout the process. Your and your California family law lawyer can review the facts and determine your next steps. In addition, your counsel can help you plan for support, custody, and visitation issues.
Contact a California Family Law Attorney
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced California family law attorneys who can answer your questions about paternity and other matters. We assist clients along California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin, San Jose, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website.