Paternity Lawyers in San Diego Assisting Clients in Need of Guidance Concerning Paternity Matters
Every child has a biological father, but in some cases, there may be additional steps a parent needs to take in order to be recognized as the legal father of a child. Learn how paternity works in California, the steps you need to take to initiate a paternity action in court, and the critical role a paternity attorney can play in helping you navigate your case.
How Is Paternity Established in California?
In California, establishing paternity means determining a child’s legal father. In this case, either the child’s parents or the court have determined who the legal father is, giving him both parental rights and responsibilities. This happens automatically under certain circumstances, such as when the child is born to married parents, and the husband of the child’s mother is presumed to be the child’s father.
In addition, California also acknowledges parentage by estoppel, which means a man can be considered a child’s legal father even if he is not the biological father if he has welcomed the child into his home and treated the child as his own, demonstrating a commitment to the child. It is also important to mention that parentage is presumed when a child is born to a couple in a registered domestic partnership. When a child is born to unmarried parents, paternity is not automatically established until both parents sign a declaration of paternity or legal action for paternity establishment is finalized in court.
How Does an Unmarried Couple Establish Paternity?
There are two ways for an unmarried couple to establish paternity – voluntarily or through the courts. When both parents agree, and the man wishes to be legally recognized as the father of the child, the couple may sign a voluntary declaration of paternity, which is a form available at the hospital and usually signed shortly after the child is born. It can also be signed at a later time in front of a notary public or a designated California public agency.
If paternity cannot be established voluntarily, a legal action for paternity establishment may be initiated by the child’s mother, the putative or alleged father (the man who believes he is the father of the child), the local child support agency assisting the mother, or an adoption agency. If the child is 12 years old or older, they will also be considered a party in the case.
What Are the Steps to a Paternity Action in Court?
If you wish to file a parentage case with the court, you may choose between requesting your local child support agency to establish the parentage of your child, which will also mean they will petition the court for a child support order. While this service is free, there are significant disadvantages, such as the fact that the LCSA (Local Child Support Agency) lawyers do not represent the parents or the child, and any information you share is public and not protected by any attorney-client privilege.
With that in mind, you may also choose to initiate your own case by filling out all appropriate forms. It is strongly recommended that an attorney help you with this step to ensure your forms are filled out and filed correctly. You will need to file the forms with the court clerk, then have the other parent served with the appropriate papers, and bring the court the completed Proof of Service so you may initiate your case. Once your case has been opened, you may ask the court for temporary orders for child support, custody, and visitation. What happens next depends on whether the other parent has filed a response and whether you and the other parent have an agreement.
How Does Establishing Paternity Benefit a Child?
There are many reasons why you may want to establish paternity. First, it enables the child to access important benefits such as health and life insurance. It can also give the child legal rights to inheritance and allows the child to build a stronger emotional relationship with their father.
The mother also benefits by being given financial support, such as the right to collect child support and access family medical records. Finally, the father benefits by receiving parental rights such as custody and visitation, enabling him to be a part of his child’s life. Establishing paternity can be beneficial for both the parents and the child, and it is a necessary step before any other orders, such as support or visitation, can be initiated.
What Can a Paternity Lawyer Do for Me?
The laws concerning paternity establishment and other relevant family law matters, such as child custody and support, can often be hard to navigate, so you need to have a knowledgeable, trustworthy ally on your side. A paternity lawyer can help protect your rights and ensure that the process of determining parental responsibility is done fairly.
Besides filling out forms and helping you with paperwork, a paternity lawyer can advocate on your behalf when vital aspects such as time-sharing and child support are being determined. In some cases where your circumstances have changed significantly, and you need to request a paternity order modification, a seasoned family law and paternity lawyer has the knowledge and skills to accomplish the task professionally.
Whether you are a mother or father seeking to establish paternity or need to dispute a paternity order, it is always best to count on a professional such as the family attorneys at Khosroabadi & Hill in San Diego. Reach out at 858-240-2093 to learn more about how we can help you with all your paternity matters.