Courts legally determine the father of a child through parentage, or paternity, cases. While paternity is usually assumed inside of a marriage, establishing legal paternity is necessary to enforce key legal rights for unmarried persons.
Why Paternity is Important for Mothers
Under California law, a father is responsible for supporting a child whether or not he is present in their life and is generally required to pay child support to help the mother with the costs of raising the child. A court can only order child support payments once paternity has been established.
Why Paternity is Important for Fathers
If the parents were not married when the mother became pregnant or the child was born, the child may be considered to have no legal father. This means that the biological father has no legal rights to request visitation or custody before legal paternity is established.
There are two ways to establish paternity when it is not presumed from marriage. First, the parents may file a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity with the court. This document is usually signed, along with the birth certificate at the time of birth. Once approved, the declaration has the same effect as any other court order establishing paternity.
The second option is through a court order. A mother or father wishing to petition for paternity may petition the court to establish parentage of the child, which may include a request for genetic testing. If the test establishes paternity, the court will then issue an order acknowledging this fact and will then decide issues such as custody and child support.
If you are looking for an experienced paternity lawyer near Dublin, California, or surrounding Bay Area Counties, contact Seo Family Law today.