How Long Does a Father Have To Establish Paternity?

Paternity isn’t always established at the time of the child’s birth, in fact, sometimes paternity isn’t legally established until years later. Establishing paternity is about more than just biology, it acts as the official tie that binds the father to all legal obligations and rights associated with parenthood. By establishing paternity, a father can assert his rights to visitation, custody, and other similar parenting responsibilities. Likewise, the child’s mother might establish paternity to enforce child support obligations from a non-paying parent.

If you are considering establishing legal paternity, make sure you know how the process works and how long it might take.

How To Establish Paternity

If you need to establish paternity for your child, or “parentage” for same-sex parents, there are several methods you may choose, including:

  • The father is married to the mother. In California, and most other states, if spouses are married at the time of a child’s birth, they will both automatically assume parental rights.

  • The father acknowledges his paternity. If a parent signs a voluntary legal document acknowledging their paternity, they can be established as the child’s legal parent, and thus will receive parental rights and responsibilities.

  • A court order establishes paternity. If a parent does not voluntarily acknowledge their parentage, a court order might be the only other option to forcibly establish parentage. In court, the judge can review the parent’s conduct, DNA testing, and other factors to determine whether or not they will be legally acknowledged via paternity/parentage.

Depending on the method your family uses to establish paternity, it can take anywhere from several weeks to several months. If paternity is established through marriage, the paternal rights will be established at the time of the child’s birth without additional effort- whereas going through the court can take several months. To learn more about your prospective timeline, and to determine the best course of action for your given situation, we encourage you to speak with our team. We’ve worked on several paternity cases over the years, and we’re passionate about helping families find helpful resolutions to their legal dilemmas.

Call (951) 506-6654 today to discuss your case with our paternity attorneys at Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich.


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