Although many think that establishing paternity is a simple matter of biology, the truth is actually quite a bit more complex. Establishing paternity in the eyes of the law is about much more than proving that a man is the biological father of a child, it’s about establishing a legal right. Once paternity is proven, the father will be granted certain legal privileges that allow him to spend time with his child and take part in parenting decisions. Additionally, the father will also be expected to honor his responsibilities by contributing to the welfare of the child. Because establishing paternity can enact these rights and responsibilities, it can be an effective legal tool for both mothers and fathers.
If you are dealing with family legal issues involving fathers’ rights, child support, or child custody, make sure you know how establishing paternity could be beneficial for you.
California Law & Paternity
In California, paternity is only assumed when the father and mother are married, or if they are domestic partners, at the time when the child is born. If the parents are unmarried, the father must prove paternity in order to obtain his legal rights as a parent.
If a father wishes to establish paternity, he may do so by filling out a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity, which can be delivered at your local California court. Paternity can also be established through a paternity action in court. A court action occurs when the court orders paternity on behalf of someone who petitions the court, such as the child’s mother, an adoption agency, a child support agency, or a man who is the “alleged father.” Typically, court action only occurs if either parent is unwilling to declare paternity.
Why Mothers Establish Paternity
Mothers often fight to establish paternity in order to obtain certain rights for their child. A man cannot be held to pay child support unless paternity has been legally established, which is why a court action might be necessary for a mother to obtain support from a reluctant father. With paternity established, a mother can also secure other rights for her child, such as access to the father’s medical records for the child’s benefit.
Why Fathers Establish Paternity
Usually, fathers who fight to establish paternity do so because they want more time with their children. If paternity is not established, the father has no legal rights, and the mother can choose to prevent him from seeing his child. If paternity is established, he can fight for visitation rights, child custody, and a right to make parenting decisions in regards to the child’s welfare.
On the other end of the spectrum, men who have been accused of fathering children who are not theirs may disprove paternity in order to avoid paying child support to kids who they are not responsible for.
Whatever your situation, if you need to establish paternity for your child, make sure you know your rights. Our experienced Rancho Cucamonga attorneys at Chung & Ignacio, LLP can work with you to provide legal guidance and to determine the best course of action for your case.
Contact Chung & Ignacio, LLP to discuss your situation with our Rancho Cucamonga family law attorneys.