In California, unless you were married when the child was born, the matter of paternity may be questionable from a legal standpoint. For parents who were not married or living together at the time of the baby’s birth, the father may need to take extra measures to prove his paternity. Establishing paternity for your child is crucial, especially if you and the child’s mother are no longer together. If you are not legally established as the father, you could lose out on key parental rights.
How To Establish Paternity
When married parents have a child, the law assumes that the husband is the child’s father, so there is no further need to establish paternity. As of 2005, the law will also acknowledge the domestic partner of the mother as the father, even if they are not married. However, if the couple is unmarried and they are not domestic partners, the parentage of the child must be established legally. In order to establish paternity in California, you need to sign an official Declaration of Paternity. This legally-binding document declares who the child’s parents are and is completely separate from biological proof. Even if a man has established himself as the child’s biological father, he must do so with a court-recognized document as well.
Why Establish Paternity?
California courts will not acknowledge a father’s rights to visitation, custody, or child support until he has signed and filled out a Declaration of Paternity. So, in order to exercise his rights as a father, he must fill out and file the appropriate forms before he can take any legal action. Until those forms are filled out, the child will have no legally-recognized father.
Either the mother or the father may wish to establish paternity for the following reasons:
- Establish financial support for the child from both parents
- Establish the child’s right to inherit from both parents
- Having the names of both parents on the child’s birth certificate
- Provide access to both parents’ medical history
- Establish the child’s right to health and life insurance benefits
Fathers’ Rights in California
Once a father has signed a Declaration of Paternity, he will have parental rights and responsibilities. In other words, the father will be able to request custody or visitation rights in order to establish parenting time. Also. The father will also be responsible for paying child support once paternity has been established. Regardless of the financial situation of the mother, it is required that both parents contribute to the welfare of the child by offering financial support. If the parents do not agree to a specified amount, the court may order child support payments.