Establishing the parentage of a child is most commonly brought in situations involving parents that are not married. The ability of a party to successfully assert or deny the parentage of a child often requires a complex analysis of statutory and case law. Under California law, the determination of paternity of a child is often a first, critical step in petitioning a family court for an award of child support. Paternity can also be critical in matters involving custody of a child and visitation rights.
Under California law, once a person is determined to be the parent of a child, he or she will have all the rights and obligations of a parent. He or she will be able to request custody and visitation orders from the Court and be responsible for paying child support.
Presumption of Paternity in Marriage
A man who was married to the biological mother of the child at the time the child was born is presumed to be the father of the child, and therefore required to pay child support. But if the man can prove that he is not the biological father, then he will not be required to pay child support (and the actual biological father will be required to do so), but he may give up rights to custody and/or visitation.
Proving Paternity Outside of Marriage
Likewise, if a father was not married to the biological mother, then paternity may have to be established in court before any child support or custody/visitation rights are awarded (unless the father voluntarily assents to paternity).
Either the biological father or mother may initiate a paternity action and thus begin the process of obtaining support, custody, or visitation rights. A government agency may also initiate a paternity action as well. Oftentimes, a court will require DNA testing to show that a man either is or is not the father, but this is not always the case. Surrogacy and adoption present other unique legal issues regarding parentage.
Work with a Trusted Paternity Lawyer
At the Law Offices of Kelley C. Finan, we work with both men and women to help protect their rights in paternity actions and resolve all matters relating to child support, custody, and visitation rights.
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