Establishing your child’s legal paternity, is a life-changing event not only for the child, but for you and the other parent as well. Being the legal parent of a child carries with it many rights and responsibilities. In order to make sure this important legal relationship is created properly, and that all parties understand what it means, it is best to work with an experienced California paternity attorney.
It may be obvious to the mother and father of a child that they are the biological parents of a child. In the state of California, though, if the parents are not married, they must take legal steps to establish the legal relationship between the father and child. At Roberts & Zatlin Family Law, we work with both mothers and fathers in California paternity cases to make sure that their rights, as well as those of the child, are protected.
Why is it important to establish paternity legally? Doing so is necessary in order to:
When a child is born in California to an unmarried couple, establishing paternity requires more than simply naming a father on the birth certificate. There are a couple of ways to establish legal paternity.
One way to establish paternity in California is for the baby’s father to voluntarily sign a declaration of paternity form. This is often done at the hospital shortly after the child’s birth. If the father does not sign a declaration of paternity at the hospital, it can be done later, but must be signed in front of a notary public or a public agency designated to accept these declarations. After signing, the process is completed by filing the declaration with the California Department of Child Support Services.
When a father signs a voluntary declaration of paternity, he waives the right to demand a DNA or blood test to establish that he is the biological father. He also gives up the right to demand a court trial on the issue of paternity.
A man who has signed a voluntary declaration of paternity can get back his right to challenge paternity under certain limited circumstances. He may submit a rescission of the declaration of paternity within 60 days of signing the declaration. This sometimes happens when a man has a reason to suspect he is not the child’s biological father.
Beyond this 60-day window, a declaration of paternity can be challenged in court up to two years after it was signed if either parent can prove, with DNA or blood test results, that the declared father is not the child’s biological father. Legal paternity can also be challenged in court if either parent can demonstrate that they signed the declaration of paternity under duress, or that their signature was induced by fraud.
There are other methods of establishing parentage besides a voluntary declaration of paternity. Either parent may start a court case to legally establish paternity. This is common when one parent refuses to sign a voluntary declaration of paternity.
A court may also apply the common-law doctrine of “de facto parentage” to create a legal parent-child relationship between a child and an adult who is neither a biological nor adoptive parent, but who has acted in a parental role for the child. This doctrine is sometimes applied in cases involving same-sex couples, in which only one is the biological parent of the child.
Whether you are seeking to establish or challenge paternity, and whether all parties involved are cooperative or not, it is important to have good legal representation to preserve your rights. Kim Roberts Law can help.
Establishing the paternity of a child is not only a legal issue, but a deeply personal and emotional one. At Kim Roberts Law, we advocate for you throughout your legal matter without losing sight of your personal concerns.
Attorney Kim Roberts concentrates her legal practice in California family law, including paternity and parentage matters. She has over 30 years of legal experience. She has helped numerous clients resolve their family law issues and create a healthy space in which to raise their children.
Roberts & Zatlin, located in Murrieta, serves clients in Temecula, Menifee, Hemet, Sun City, Wildomar, Winchester, Lake Elsinore, Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange County, Vista, San Diego, and throughout the Inland Valley. We invite you to contact us to schedule a consultation to discuss your paternity case. We look forward to working with you.