In California, when a married couple has a child, it is presumed the husband is the father. He puts his name on the birth certificate and there is no court action required. But, there are situations where parentage must be established by the court, primarily in cases where the parties are not legally married and have children together. Some situations that require a court to make a legal finding of paternity include:
- The mother claims a man is the father and the man denies it.
- A man claims he is the father and the mother denies it.
- A woman is not sure who the biological father is.
- Children themselves question their paternity.
- Both parties agree about who is the father, but they are not married.
Even if the unmarried man agrees he is the father and puts his name on the birth certificate, this is not enough. There is no legal father until paternity is established. Courts will make no orders concerning custody, visitation or child support until paternity is established. Also, children are entitled to know who their parents are for several reasons.
- It gives them access to their medical history.
- It may entitle them to social security, veterans or other benefits.
- It gives them the right to inherit from both parents.
Once paternity is established, the court can make other relevant parenting decisions.
Call the Law Office of Erika M. Mayorquin
If you are a man or woman who wants to establish paternity, or a man who wants to defend against allegations he is the father, at the Law Office of Erika M. Mayorquin, we can help. In California, there are two main ways to establish paternity.
- A couple can both sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity. The signed form must then be filed with the California Department of Child Support Services in order to be effective. No court hearing is required.
- Obtaining a court order declaring the main the father. This is generally based on genetic testing. If a man objects to DNA testing, the court will order him to participate.
DNA tests for establishing paternity are highly reliable. They are 100 percent accurate in excluding a man from being the father. They are 99.9 percent accurate when identifying the father.
San Diego attorney Erika M. Mayorquin provides a free 45 minute consultation. She will review the facts of your case and help you decide how to proceed. She speaks English and Spanish and has several years of experience exclusively practicing family law.