Why It’s Important to Establish Paternity in California

California has specific rules regarding who can be considered a child’s parent. In many cases, these laws follow common sense. Most fathers know that they’re the father and don’t need the court to inform them.

There’s one scenario where the law can differ, however: If you are unmarried when the child is born, the state will not recognize you as the father. In this situation, the state will recognize the parental rights of the birth mother only. The way that you solve this problem in California is by establishing parentage through the court system or by completing the appropriate paperwork.


An Important Process

Parentage is how an unwed father can protect his legal right to parent his biological child. Establishing parentage requires completing paperwork and having a hearing before a judge— especially if the biological mother is contesting the relationship you have with your child. An experienced family law attorney can help you establish your parental rights and ensure all of the following:

  • Your name is on the birth certificate
  • You have custodial and visitation rights
  • You can purchase health insurance for your child, make decisions regarding medical care, take part in school enrollment, and so on

Establishing parentage also gives your child specific rights such as the ability to inherit if you die, collect on your veterans or disability benefits, be on your health insurance policy, have access to family medical records, and similar things.


Verbal Understandings Are Not Enough

It may seem strange, but you could live in the same household as your child and everyone could understand that you are the parent, but it is still not enough to guarantee either your rights or your child’s. For example, it is unlikely that you could enroll the child in school without being listed on the birth certificate.

If you and the biological mother separate without parentage being established, you could not immediately seek custody or visitation rights. You would first need to go through the process of establishing parentage, delaying the process.

Additionally, if you were to die, your child would not have rights as one of your heirs, even after knowing that you were the father. This is not a situation you want to place your grieving child in.


Cases of Conflict

If there is a dispute regarding parentage, one parent may still petition the court, and a DNA test may be ordered. Once the results are in, parentage can be established, even on protest.


Child Support

Once the court identifies both parents, if they separate or divorce, child support can be established after evaluating the income of both parties along with the custody situation. Without parentage, the court cannot enter an order of child support.


Help from a Rancho Cucamonga Family Law Attorney

Legally establishing parentage is a necessary and important step in exercising your parental rights. Nothing should interfere with the bond between parent and child, and you deserve be involved in your child’s life. For help establishing paternity and resolving any other family law issues, contact The Law Office of Laurence J. Brock. To schedule a free consultation, call 909-466-7661 or reach us online through the form on this page.

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