Paternity Actions

Paternity Actions Lawyer in Riverside

Establishing Parents' Rights and Responsibilities in California

Paternity actions are taken to establish the biological father of a child for a number of reasons. In the majority of cases, paternity actions are taken to determine a man's responsibility to pay child support. Sometimes paternity is sought by the man, who is trying to figure out whether or not he is responsible for financially supporting the child.

Other times paternity is sought by the mother, who is in need of financial assistance and support. If a paternity test proves that a man is the father of a child, the court can order him to make child support payments. Likewise, if the man is determined not to be the father of a child, he will no longer be held responsible for providing support.

Paternity actions are also sought by men wishing to gain child custody or visitation rights. If a man can establish that he is the father of a child, he will have a much better chance at obtaining visitation rights or custody of the child. Paternity is a very serious matter that, once determined, will permanently affect the lives of the parties involved. You can rely on our Riverside family law attorneys to make sure all of the necessary paperwork is filled out correctly and to help you properly file a paternity action.

Equitable Parenthood, Alleged Fathers & Presumed Fathers

When discussing paternity issues, there are a few key definitions that must be defined. The first term is the acknowledged father. When a woman becomes pregnant, there is a man who is acknowledged to be the father of the child, either by admission or agreement between him and the mother.
The second term is the presumed father, who is sometimes the same as the acknowledged father. Unless this particular man proves otherwise (by way of DNA test or other convincing evidence), he will be presumed to be the father.

A man will be presumed the father of a child if:

  • He was married to the mother at the time the child was conceived/born,
  • He man married the woman after she found out she was pregnant,
  • He agreed to have his name on the child's birth certificate,
  • Or he acted in other ways as if the child was his own.

The man who is presumed to be the father will be responsible for paying child support unless he can prove that he is not the child's actual father. There is another role that a father or presumed father can take on, and that is the title of "equitable parent." This person does not have to be a legal parent, nor do they have to be the biological parent. An equitable parent may be granted custody under these auspices if they have a close relationship with a child and the other parent wishes to encourage this relationship. It will be more difficult for an equitable father to gain legal custody or visitation rights of a child, since there is no legal or biological bond.

What Does the Paternity Process Entail?

When a paternity action is filed, the father in question will be subjected to DNA tests and blood tests. In California, this is usually only carried out when a couple has had a child together but never married—as it is assumed under the law that married spouses are both biological parents to any children that were conceived during the scope of their marriage. Once the DNA testing has been concluded, if it discovered that a man is the biological father of an illegitimate child, the mother can then file an order to retain child support. In turn, the father can also pursue visitation rights and/or custody rights.

If you have any questions about filing a paternity action, you should not hesitate to seek legal assistance. As either a mother or a father, you have certain rights that can be upheld at the conclusion of this action.

Get in touch with a Riverside paternity lawyer to discuss your rights and options when facing a complex paternity issue.