Paternity Action Lawyers in San Luis Obispo, CA
Paternity is the status of being someone’s father and establishing paternity is important to determine who has rights and obligations towards a child. This isn’t always easy because the laws concerning paternity can get complicated, so talk to one of our California paternity action lawyers to know more about how you can establish paternity.
Establishing Paternity in California
Establishing paternity means identifying who the legal parents of a child are. In most cases, the recognized legal father is the person the child’s biological mother is married to.
This means that he does not have to be the child’s biological father to be the legal father, and also the inverse – a man being a child’s biological father does not automatically make him the child’s legal father. Fatherhood is presumed by law in situations where:
- He was married to the child’s mother when the child was born,
- He married the child’s mother after the child was born and agreed to have his name on the child’s birth certificate,
- He married the child’s mother after the child was born and agreed to support the child,
- He tried to marry the mother, even if the marriage was not valid, and the child was born during the period they were “married”,
- And if he has always treated the child as his own and welcomed the child into his home (parentage by estoppel),
- A child is taken in by couples in same-sex marriages,
- A child is taken in by couples in a registered domestic partnership.
Establishing paternity is important for the emotional development of a child because it allows them to feel that they have a father who would protect and care for them. On top of the emotional benefit, there are also legal benefits afforded to a child that have to be fulfilled by his father including:
- The right to receive social security and veteran’s benefits, if available,
- The right to receiving an inheritance,
- Life and health insurance coverage,
- Access to family medical records and history,
- Having his name in the child’s birth certificate,
- Legal documentation identifying both parents, and
- Financial support.
Additionally, once paternity is established, the court can then make orders regarding visitation rights (parenting time) name changes, health insurance, child custody, child support, and reimbursement for birth and pregnancy expenses.
Under circumstances where a child is not born to a married couple, that child will not have a legal father and so paternity will still have to be established. In California, this can be done in one of two ways: through signing an official declaration of parentage or paternity or getting a court order.
At 805 Family Law, our paternity action lawyers in San Luis Obispo believe that children must have a family that will supply all their emotional and financial needs. That is why we are committed to making sure all children have fathers to look up to.
Establishing Parentage for Non-Married Couples
Signing a Voluntary Declaration of Parentage or Paternity
The voluntary declaration of parentage or paternity form is a California government form that can be signed by a child’s mother as well as another parent which will then establish them both as the legal parents and guardians of the child.
Once the form is signed, you will have to file it with the California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) Parentage Opportunity Program (POP) for it to be finalized and effective.
As the name suggests, this form must be signed voluntarily by both parties with neither party being forced to do so. If signed and filed correctly, the declaration of parentage or paternity will have the same effect as a court order- legally establishing the parental relationship of the signatories and the child.
Getting a Court Order
In cases where the two parties are unwilling to sign the document or let the other sign, a court order might be necessary. This works both ways- a man who believes he is the biological father of the child might file a paternity action case to gain the legal recognition to be the father of the child and gain visitation and custody rights.
Or the other way around; a mother could file a paternity case to establish as the legal father the man whom she believes is the biological father of the child. This could be done by the mother to demand support for the child.
Other individuals who could file a paternity case for a child include the child himself or his guardian to demand parental support or demand benefits including life insurance, disability, survivor, or veteran’s benefits. The department of social services and other relevant government agencies can also file a paternity case to ask for reimbursement for the public assistance spent on the child.
When filing a paternity suit, the filer would be known as the petitioner while the alleged father is known as the respondent.
Do keep in mind that a court order is not always necessary to establish a man’s paternity of a child; a paternity action suit is not necessary if:
- The parents are already married or are registered domestic partners (including same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships),
- The parents are not married but have signed a voluntary declaration of parentage or paternity,
- A relevant child support entity has already filed a paternity and child support case,
- In cases of parents in a domestic violence-related restraining order, if both parents agree on a child’s paternity and they both agree to the court entering a judgement about the child’s paternity.
Parenthood according to the law does not always follow the biological rules of parentage, which can make understanding family law confusing. If you have any concerns regarding paternity and paternity laws, don’t hesitate to talk to our San Luis Obispo family law attorneys to get answers to your questions.
Disputing Parentage and Genetic Cases
When the court wants to investigate the parenthood of an individual in relation to a child, they would conduct DNA tests. DNA is the genetic material that contains your unique genetic code which can be understood to be the instructions that make you up.
Your DNA is a mixture of your parents’ DNA and is unique to you such that no other person to have ever existed will have the same genetic code as you- even twins are genetically distinguishable even if they look very identical.
Since a child inherits part of his parents’ DNA when he is conceived, paternity and parentage can be analyzed by collecting DNA samples from the father and the child, sequencing these samples, and comparing these samples electronically. If there is sufficient similarity between a parent’s and a child’s DNA, it should mean that that child is borne of that parent.
When conducting DNA tests to establish fatherhood, DNA samples will be acquired from the patient by gently rubbing a sterile cotton swab on the insides of the person’s cheeks. These swabs will be then sent to a lab for testing.
Consult Our San Luis Obispo Paternity Action Lawyers!
Understanding family law is already hard in itself, dealing with legal paperwork on top of that is even harder. As San Luis Obispo, CA family law attorneys, we understand how complex paternal actions and parenthood dispute cases can get, even for lawyers.
If you are considering or in the process of going through a paternity action case, don’t hesitate to let our San Luis Obispo paternity action lawyers help you. We are knowledgeable on family law and, like you, want what’s best for your child and every other child.