Establishing Paternity in Orange County
Guidance from an Experienced Paternity Mediator
California is home to many nontraditional families. When a child is born to a married couple or a couple who have demonstrated a commitment and live together, it is assumed that your spouse or partner is the father. However, when a couple isn’t married or living together, there are additional steps spouses must take to establish paternity through the family law courts.
The benefits of establishing paternity are important and include:
- Ensuring that your child has financial support
- Benefitting from health insurance or public assistance
- Establishing the child as an heir to a father’s estate
- Allowing the biological father to be involved in your child’s life
- Allowing the biological father to assert his rights to raise the child
How Is Paternity Established in California?
A father can sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity (VDP) after a child is born that acknowledges the baby’s legal parents and thus establishes a father’s rights and responsibilities.
If this form is not signed, a paternity action may be necessary. This happens when a mother, a public child support agency, an adoption agency, or the man who believes he is the father asks the court to help establish the biological father. The court will then ask the mother and alleged father to submit to genetic testing. If the father refuses, this may be used as evidence of paternity.
Paternity disputes are often complicated, and each situation requires a specific process and paperwork.
Cases where paternity can be disputed may include those where:
- Both parents signed a voluntary declaration of paternity: In this case, you must complete a Voluntary Declaration of Parentage Rescission. This form has specific requirements as well as limitations, so it is best to speak with one of our paternity attorneys for assistance.
- Parentage is assumed because the parents were married: It is rare that a father can successfully dispute his paternity if a “conclusive presumption” is in place due to the parents being married at time of birth. Sometimes, even with evidence that disproves it, it cannot be disputed. If you suspect that you are not the father of your child, it is imperative that you discuss all the details of your situation with legal counsel from our team.
- Paternity was never determined: This is often at the very beginning of a parentage case, either when you and the mother were never married or if the child was born prior to marriage.
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Establishing paternity can help you seek the child support, physical and legal custody, and visitation of your child. In addition, the court can establish who pays court fees, the costs of genetic tests, and any attorney costs, making paternity a sensible and often affordable method of helping protect your child’s future.
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