Establishment of Paternity Lawyer Chino Hills
Legally establishing paternity is very important for unmarried couples with children. When a couple is married and has a child, paternity is generally established automatically. However, when a mother is unmarried and has a child, paternity must be established in other ways.
Until paternity is established, the child’s father does not legally have any rights or responsibilities to the child. The child has no rights to an inheritance from its father, no rights to medical or life insurance benefits, or Social Security, veterans’ benefits or other benefits.
Establishing paternity entitles the child involved to the same rights and privileges that kids whose parents are married have, including:
- Financial support from both parents
- Access to family medical records
- Health insurance coverage
- Life insurance coverage
- The right to inherit from either parent
How to Establish Paternity
A father can voluntarily acknowledge paternity at any time, but in some cases, a judge may order DNA testing – particularly if the alleged father denies his role in parenting the child. If the father agrees, you both may fill out a Declaration of Paternity and file it with the California Department of Child Services. This is completely voluntary, however, and the alleged father is legally allowed to refuse to participate.
Another way to establish paternity is through the legal system. If either parent requests it, the court may order DNA testing.
Finally, unless proved otherwise, the courts may presume a person is the child’s father if he “welcomes a child into his home and openly acted as if the child was his own.”
DNA testing can establish a father’s paternity with greater than 99 percent accuracy. In many cases, this type of testing can even be done before the child is born. However, DNA testing is usually only done when one party contests paternity. For example, an alleged father may demand proof that he is actually the child’s father before he consents to paying child support.
Mothers may also contest paternity and request that the court order DNA testing.
Is Paternity Automatic in Some Cases?
Paternity is usually automatically established when you are married. In most divorce cases, if the parents were married at the time the child was born, the law assumes that the male party to the divorce is the child’s father.
Naturally, either parent has the right to disagree. While nobody can predict how a judge will rule, know that the court may order DNA testing or attempt to establish paternity in other ways.
Child Custody and Paternity
You must establish parentage before the courts can determine custody rights. A father has no legal rights to a child until paternity is determined, so he doesn’t have an entitlement to custody hearings. In fact, he is not entitled to visitation rights unless he is legally considered the father of the child.
However, a legal parent has the right to petition the court for custody or visitation rights – and with those rights come responsibilities, including child support.
Child Support and Paternity
The lack of legal paternity leaves the courts with no legal basis to order someone to pay child support. Therefore, a support order cannot be established until paternity is determined.
Under California law, when a person is established as the legal parent of a child, he or she is required to provide financial support for that child. A parent who fails to support his or her child is committing a crime.
Does Paternity Have Anything to Do With Alimony?
Alimony and spousal support are entirely separate issues from paternity, custody and child support. Although courts may look at the amount of child support a man is paying while determining the amount of spousal support he may be obligated to pay, alimony and spousal support have nothing to do with paternity or the child’s right to be supported by his or her father.
Working With a Chino Hills Establishment of Paternity Lawyer
Establishment of paternity is a sensitive subject for most people. It’s often a good idea to work with a Chino Hills establishment of paternity lawyer who understands California law and how it applies in your case.
Call us at 909-466-7661 or contact us online if you need help dealing with this delicate situation. We can help ensure that your rights – and your child’s rights – are preserved throughout the process.