How Does Paternity Work in California?

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.

putative spouse

What is a Putative Spouse?

Depending on where you live, you may or may not have to follow formal steps to be considered married. In California, however, certain legal requirements must be met for a couple to be considered legally wed. Generally, if a California couple does not meet these requirements, they will not have the same legal protections and rights as those who are married. One possible exception is when there is a putative spouse. So, it’s important to know: What is a putative spouse?

What is a Putative Spouse? 

A putative spouse is a person who has a good faith belief that they have been living with another person as their married partner. In California, the law recognizes the rights of a person who meets this definition.

What Rights Does a Putative Spouse Have in California?

Under California Law, someone determined to be a putative spouse will have the same rights as someone legally married. This means that when the relationship is ending, a court can make decisions regarding property division, child custody, and spousal support just as it could in a California divorce, legal separation, or dissolution of a domestic partnership.

Does it Matter if the Marriage is Voidable?

There are numerous reasons that a marriage may be voidable. For instance, suppose a couple married when one partner was already married. In that situation, a spouse may believe themselves to be legally married but actually be in a voidable marriage. Likewise, a couple may go through a marriage ceremony believing they have met all California legal requirements, only to learn later they were mistaken;

in these and other situations where a spouse believes in good faith that they are married, the court may grant the individual putative status.

How Does a California Court Determine Good Faith?

Good faith is generally shown by the party’s actions and can be evaluated from the perspective of a reasonable person. A court will examine the evidence and determine whether a reasonably prudent person would have believed themselves to be married under the same circumstances.

A California court will look at similar facts as another state might examine to determine if a common law marriage exists. For instance, if a couple identifies themselves to others as married and completes official documents such as tax and life insurance forms representing themselves to be married, the court can take this into consideration.

What Happens Without a Putative Designation? 

If one or both partners learns their marriage is invalid, the couple may have the option of having it annulled. However, an annulment does not confer the same rights as would be granted to a putative spouse. In an annulment, if there’s no putative spouse, a judge can’t divide your property and debts or order spousal support. When a party is granted putative status, the assets, debt, and property acquired during their marriage will be divided as community property, and spousal support may be ordered. Putative spouses also have intestate succession rights to their former partner’s estate.

If you have concerns that your marriage is not valid, it’s essential that you consult with an experienced California family law attorney as soon as possible. You and your California family law lawyer can review your circumstances and determine your next steps. If you are granted putative status, your attorney can help you with property division, child custody, support, and the other issues in your case.

Contact a California Family Law Attorney Today

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced California child custody attorneys who can help you with your child custody issues. Our firm assists 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.

California Divorce

5 Things You Need to Know About California Divorce

Ending a marriage can be extremely stressful, especially when unsure of what to expect during your divorce. One way to help minimize stress is by learning about California divorce before your case begins. Here are 5 things you need to know about California Divorce:

1) Divorce is an Emotional Process with Legal Consequences

Divorce can be one of the most emotionally difficult experiences a person may have during their lifetime. For many spouses, engaging in the process will involve making an abrupt and painful transition from being partners to becoming legal adversaries.

Divorce impacts virtually every area of a person’s life, and emotions can run high. At the same time, the choices you make during your California divorce can have significant long-term legal implications. It’s important to recognize that the pain and stress of the situation can influence your decision-making. Under these circumstances, having the advice and advocacy of an experienced California divorce attorney is crucial. Your divorce lawyer can help you evaluate your case from a neutral perspective and provide the guidance you need to make informed decisions.

2) California is a No-Fault Divorce State

When a marriage ends, it’s not uncommon for one or both partners to believe that the other is to blame. You may be getting divorced because your ex had an affair, was violent, or was emotionally unavailable. Although these are valid reasons to leave a marriage, they are not legal grounds for a California divorce. The reason is that California is a no-fault divorce state.

That means that a California couple can get divorced without having to prove that one or both of them are responsible. The law also does not provide a basis to allege that anyone was to blame.

Essentially, all that is required is for one party to plead that the couple has irreconcilable differences. However, that does not mean a spouse’s adultery or domestic violence is irrelevant during divorce. To learn more about how your ex’s conduct may impact your divorce, you should consult with an experienced California divorce attorney.

3) No One “Wins” a Divorce Case

Sometimes, spouses can get caught up in trying to “win” their divorce case. This can look different for different people. In some cases, exes may fight one another on seemingly every decision during their divorce just for the sake of getting their way. In others, one or both may have unreasonable expectations of getting all or most of the couple’s shared assets.

These types of disputes are often fueled by resentment and pain and have more to do with punishing the other person than getting through the divorce. Divorce cannot make things even or bring a sense of justice to your situation. Instead, your California divorce will involve finding a way to divide your assets equitably, deciding custody based on what is in the children’s best interest, and, if applicable, determining appropriate support. No one “wins” a divorce case, but with the right counsel and approach, navigating the process and obtaining equitable results is possible.

4) California is a Community Property State

Another important thing to know about California divorce is that California is a community property state. This means that, outside of certain limited exceptions, what spouses earn and acquire during their marriage belongs to each person equally. For example, if you bought a house in your name only

during your marriage and used community funds to make the purchase, your spouse will probably have equal ownership rights to the dwelling. Likewise, each of you will have a community interest in the other’s retirement accounts for contributions made during the marriage.

However, there can be circumstances when spouses can agree not to divide community assets. In addition, resources acquired before marriage, inherited, and gifted property are not generally community property. You and your California divorce attorney can evaluate your assets and determine how community property law will apply to you and your circumstances.

5) California Family Courts Favor Shared Custody

Child custody can be one of the most contentious issues during a California divorce. The divorce court is charged with making decisions that are in the best interest of minor children during this type of case. Outside of evidence that a parent is unsafe or not involved in a child’s life, the court will generally favor joint (shared) custody.

There are two types of child custody in California—legal and physical. Legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make decisions regarding their child’s upbringing. Physical custody is about a parent having the right to have their child with them. When parents are safe and appropriate, California courts presume that joint legal and physical custody is in the child’s best interest.

California divorce can be complex, and it’s vital that you get the information you need regarding every stage of the process. If you are involved in or considering divorce, you should consult with an experienced California divorce attorney. Your California divorce lawyer can explain how your case will work, help you analyze the evidence, and navigate your case.

Contact an Experienced California Divorce Attorney

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced California divorce attorneys who can help you before, during, and after your divorce. 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.