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What Steps Must I Take To Prove Paternity In California?

What Steps Must I Take To Prove Paternity In California?

Establishing paternity, also known as parentage in California, is required before a court will issue custody, visitation, or child support orders. In some cases, parentage is presumed, and it is not necessary to take additional steps to establish paternity.

Under other circumstances, steps must be taken by one or both parents to prove parentage before securing a family law court order. California courts recognize unique and diverse familial relationships where sometimes more than two parents are recognized in paternity cases.

If you need to prove paternity before securing a court order, you might have questions about the steps you need to take to establish parentage. The process you are required to go through depends on your particular family circumstances.

Marriage Or Domestic Partnership

With few exceptions, if you are legally married or in a registered domestic partnership at the time the child was conceived or born, parentage is presumed. This means that you do not need to take any steps to prove paternity before a court issues a family law order regarding your child.

However, if one parent disputes paternity, that parent will need to take legal steps to prove that they are not the child’s parent. For example, if a married parent denies being a child’s biological father, he will need to provide DNA paternity test results to the court to prove his claim.

Unmarried When A Child Was Born

In addition to children born when couples were married or had a registered domestic partnership, under California paternity law, parentage will be presumed if one party can demonstrate any of the following:

  • Support agreement – A couple was married after the child was born, and the presumed parent was obligated to support the child by a written support agreement or a court order.
  • Parentage by estoppel – A parent welcomes the child into his home and acts as though he is the child’s parent.
  • Birth certificate – A couple was married after the child was born, and the presumed parent voluntarily put his name on the birth certificate.

Even if the parties attempted to marry in any of the above scenarios, but the marriage was not legally valid, parentage may still be presumed. If parentage is established under any of these circumstances, you should not need to take any additional steps to prove paternity for a child support or custody order.

Voluntary Declaration Of Paternity

If parentage is not disputed by either parent, they may sign a voluntary declaration of parentage or paternity. Unmarried parents can choose to sign the declaration when the baby is born at the hospital.

If you choose to sign it later, the form must be signed at a designated public agency or in front of a notary public. California public agencies where you may sign the declaration include the registrar of births, welfare offices, local superior courts, and local child support agencies.

Establishing Disputed Parentage

Paternity disputes often involve one party who claims that he is or is not the child’s biological father. Under those circumstances, either party can ask the court to order genetic testing. As mentioned above, child support and custody cannot be ordered until parentage is established.

In cases where biological paternity isn’t an issue, both parties will have to gather evidence and present their case to the judge, who will ultimately determine parentage. This is common when one person adopts a baby, and the other party claims that they agreed or did not agree to be the child’s other parent.

For example, suppose in a same-sex relationship that one person adopted a baby or had a biological baby, and the couple intended to raise the child together as parents. Then the couple breaks up, and the person who adopted or gave birth to the baby claims to be the child’s only parent.

In that scenario, the other partner might have to establish parentage to protect their custody and visitation rights with the child. The partner would need to provide evidence to the court, such as a history of financially supporting the child, and ask the judge to establish parentage.

Contact A California Paternity Lawyer Today

If you have questions or need help with a parentage matter, contact a California paternity lawyer today at 424-250-9130 or online. California family law attorney Bruce A. Mandel handles paternity cases, child custody, and child support matters. He will meet with you to discuss your case and legal options.

Follow his Facebook page to learn more about his law practice and California family law matters.