What Are the Different Ways to Establish Paternity?

Protecting Your Parental Rights

Parenthood is a gift. However, before single fathers can truly relish in its glory, they must take certain steps to have their paternity legally recognized. Luckily, there are a number of ways to do so in California, allowing parents to pursue the path they find easiest.


If a child is born to married parents, the mother’s husband is automatically presumed to be the father. There are no further actions the couple must take to establish paternity.

Voluntary Declaration of Paternity

Even if a child’s parents are unmarried, they could take a simplified approach to confirming the father’s relationship with the child through a voluntary declaration of paternity. Through this method, neither parent has to appear in court.

Parents have the opportunity to sign a declaration at the hospital upon the birth of their baby. Doing so will immediately establish the father’s paternal rights and add his name to the birth certificate. If the couple is unable to complete the form upon the birth of their baby, they may do so at a later point at:

  • A welfare office
  • The local child support agency
  • The local superior court
  • The registrar of births

Once the two sign the form and file it with the California Department of Child Support Services Parentage Opportunity Program, it is effective, and they may ask for a new birth certificate that lists both parents.

Court Intervention

If a parent is unwilling to cooperate with a voluntary declaration of paternity, either party could start a parentage case with the court. Our lawyers can help you through each step, including:

  • Filling out necessary forms and summons
  • Filling out a visitation application if seeking a custody order
  • Filling out a financial statement if seeking a child support order
  • Making copies of the forms for the other parent and the court
  • Filing the forms with the court clerk
  • Serving the other parent
  • Filing the proof of service
  • Waiting for the parent to respond within 30 days

After completing these steps, our attorneys will help you conclude the case. These closing steps vary depending on whether the other parent filed a response, as well as if you two were able to reach an agreement on parentage, custody, and child support.

Local Child Support Agency Intervention

Your local child support agency (LCSA), while unable to represent you or your child, can assist in establishing parentage. Assistance will be automatically prompted if one parent is receiving welfare for the child, such as Cal-Works or Medi-Cal.

If a case was not started automatically, either party could ask LCSA for help even while the mother is still pregnant. A paternity test could be ordered after the child’s birth if the alleged parent denies their paternal status.

Benefits of Establishing Paternity

Establishing paternity affords a number of significant rights to the parents and the child. These privileges include:

  • Access to financial support from both parents
  • Birth certificate that includes both parents
  • Access to complete medical history from both sides of the family
  • Health and life insurance coverage from either parent
  • Ability to inherit from either parent
  • Ability to receive child support and custody orders

Enjoy parenthood to the fullest by establishing paternity today. Contact Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich for help: (951) 506-6654.


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