Kaufman Steinberg attorneys help parents establish and define their parental rights in paternity cases, both men and women, whether paternity is disputed or not. Under California law being a parent comes with serious personal and financial responsibilities to help raise the child, so this is not an issue to be taken lightly.

Legally establishing that someone is the parent of a child involves obtaining a court order identifying the legal parents of a child or children. Establishing parental status is a qualifying step before custody, visitation, or child support will be permanently ordered by a judge. Parents can voluntarily sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity, or either parent can file a Petition to Establish a Paternal Relationship.

If you don’t admit that you’re a child’s parent, the court may order you, the other alleged parent and the child to submit to genetic testing. If you are established as the father or mother, you will have all the legal rights and responsibilities of a parent, including

  • Requesting custody or visitation orders from a court so you can visit or raise the child; and
  • Paying child support (in one form or another) as well as a portion of the uninsured health-care costs and the child-care costs to enable the custodial parent to work or attend school

Establishing parentage not only impacts the parents, but is very important for a child due to the emotional benefit of knowing (and possibly spending time with) both of his or her parents, as well as entitlement to the same rights and privileges as a child whose parents are married. These legal rights and privileges include

  • Financial support by both parents;
  • Legal identification of both parents;
  • having the names of both parents on the birth certificate;
  • Access to family medical records;
  • Health and life insurance coverage from either parent;
  • The right to inherit from either parent; and/or
  • The right to receive social security and veteran’s benefits, when applicable.

After parentage is established, a judge can order child support, health insurance, child custody, visitation, name change, and reimbursement of pregnancy and birth expenses. Without establishing paternity, these orders cannot be issued. If one parent provides support while the other refuses, the court cannot order child support unless parentage is established.

Unless proved otherwise, the law presumes a person is a child’s parent when

  • Both parties were married when the child was conceived or born;
  • The parties attempted to marry and the child was conceived or born during the “marriage”;
  • Either party married the mother after the birth and agreed to have his or her name on the birth certificate or to support the child; and/or
  • Either parent welcomed the child into his or her home and acted as if the child was his or her own.

A man who is alleged to be the father has a right to request genetic (DNA) testing to find out if he is in fact the father of that child.

  • DNA is the biological material that determines a person’s physical characteristics and each person’s DNA is unique;
  • A person’s DNA coding is inherited from his or her parents. By comparing the DNA coding of a mother, purported father and the child, a parental relationship can be established or disproved.

If possible paternity is an issue that you need to address, whether you’re a mother of a child, the presumed other parent, or you’re a man who wants to prove, or dispute that you’re the father of the child, Kaufman Steinberg can help. We’ve helped hundreds of people through this situation and will zealously promote and protect your rights and interests. Contact us today to learn more about paternity laws and how they might apply to you and the child.

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