The Path To Court-Ordered Paternity Tests In California


The path to court-ordered paternity tests in California is a complicated journey, fraught with legal hurdles and emotional stakes. Understanding the intricacies of the state’s specific laws is crucial, not just for the parents involved but also for the long-term well-being of the child.

With over three decades of experience in family law, Attorney Bruce A. Mandel serves the Torrance, CA community by offering valuable insights into navigating California’s complex paternity landscape. His expertise underscores the importance of understanding your legal rights and obligations in such sensitive matters.

California’s Presumed Parentage Laws

California Family Code Section 7611 outlines the conditions under which a person is considered a presumed father. These include being married to the mother at conception or birth, attempting to marry her, or openly holding the child out as his own.

In most cases, the presumption of paternity can only be contested through court adjudication or a DNA test.

The Basics: Voluntary Acknowledgment Of Paternity

Before diving into court-ordered tests, it’s worth mentioning the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) process.

Signing a VAP at the hospital immediately after the child’s birth is the simplest way to establish paternity. Both parents must sign the form, and the father must present a photo ID.

If the VAP is not signed at the hospital, you can obtain the form from California’s Office of Vital Records.

The Importance Of Establishing Paternity And The Risks Of Failing To Establish Paternity In California

Establishing paternity in California is not merely a bureaucratic exercise; it has profound implications on a host of critical issues including child custody, visitation rights, and financial support. Beyond that, legal paternity can secure a child’s access to various benefits like health insurance, inheritance rights, and even Social Security benefits.

The risks of not formally establishing paternity can be long-lasting. From the father’s perspective, the lack of legal paternity means no authoritative ground for asserting rights to custody or visitation. For the child, this could translate into a lack of emotional and financial support, missing out on family medical history, and possible psychological distress due to unanswered questions about their parentage.

Voluntary Acknowledgment VS. Court-Ordered Paternity Establishment

Signing a VAP form is usually the easiest path for unwed parents to establish paternity.

However, this option may not be viable when disagreements or uncertainties cloud the issue. In these cases, the alternative is to file a “Petition to Establish Parental Relationship” at the local district court.

Also, enlisting the services of an experienced paternity attorney is beneficial.

How To File A Court-Ordered Paternity Test In California

Steps to Secure a Court-Ordered DNA Test in California

  1. Submit the Petition: Acquire and complete the “Petition to Establish Parental Relationship” form.
  2. Comply with Court Guidelines: After reviewing your petition, the court will provide detailed instructions for DNA testing procedures.
  3. Complete the DNA Test: Usually, a cheek swab test is conducted for the child, mother, and presumed father.
  4. Receive and Interpret Results: California law mandates that a 99% or higher paternity probability is sufficient for establishing legal paternity.

Costs And Consequences Of Court-Ordered Paternity Testing

If the Department of Child Support Services administers the test, the fee is usually waived, providing financial relief to the parties involved. In cases where this isn’t applicable, the court determines who will shoulder the financial burden of the test, and costs can reach several hundred dollars.

Upon confirmation of paternity, the court formalizes the relationship by issuing an order. This legal document includes the father’s name on the child’s birth certificate and outlines parameters for child support and custody arrangements.

Is There A Statute Of Limitations On Establishing Paternity In California?

In California, there’s no strict statute of limitations for establishing paternity. Generally, paternity can be established until the child turns 18, but exceptions can extend this limit. If using a voluntary declaration of paternity, either parent has 60 days to rescind it unless a court order has already been entered.

For specific timelines and situations, consult legal advice.

Navigating The Legal Landscape Post-Paternity

After legal paternity is established, both parents stand on equal ground regarding their rights and responsibilities for the child. This legal recognition serves as a foundation for various subsequent legal proceedings that may follow.

These could range from setting up child support arrangements to navigating complex custody hearings. The next steps often hinge on the unique circumstances of each case.

Court-Ordered Paternity In California With Bruce A. Mandel

Navigating California’s paternity laws can be daunting, but the stakes are high: the child’s well-being and parental rights. Understanding your rights and responsibilities becomes not just a legal requirement but a moral imperative.

Attorney Bruce A. Mandel, with over three decades serving Torrance, CA, emphasizes the importance of understanding these California-specific regulations when dealing with court-ordered paternity tests. For valued guidance in these intricate matters, contact Bruce A. Mandel today! For more California family law matters, follow Bruce on Facebook.

En Espanol »

Please fill out the form below, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

How did you hear about us?