In the state of California, there are three different ways that parents can establish the paternity of a child. Establishing paternity is a highly important endeavor, as it can be essential in deciding a man’s rights to visitation and custody, as well as his responsibility for paying child support.
File a Declaration of Paternity
The first method is to sign and file a Declaration of Paternity. When a child is born, the parents will be given the option to sign this declaration at the hospital. If signed, the father’s name will be reflected on the child’s birth certificate and the mother will not be required to go to court. If the father is not present at the child’s birth, this declaration can be signed later. A signed Declaration of Paternity has the same enforceability as a court order, and both parents will have an equal responsibility to support the child.
Open a Case for Parentage and Support
The second way to legally establish parentage is to consult with your local child support agency and schedule an appointment to open a case for parentage and support. This process is completely free and will involve a genetic test. This is usually required for children who are born out of wedlock or when a father denies being the parent of a child.
Take the Case to Court
Finally, parents can go to court to determine the biological father of a child. This involves the completion, serving, and filing of various court documents and can involve a trial before a judge. Either parent can initiate this legal action.
Hire a Certified Family Law Specialist
Paternity actions can be extremely complex legal processes and require the trained eye of an experienced family law attorney to be handled. At Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich, our Riverside County family lawyers can use their many decades of combined experience to guide you through this difficult time. To find out more about how we can help, request a complimentary case evaluation or call our office today at (951) 687-6003.