California is a very progressive state in virtually every way possible, including family law. With the times we live in, lawmakers try to keep up with the needs of unconventional families and everything that comes with such family structures.
In this article, we’re focusing on paternity law in California. For any additional pending questions, and clarifications, contact Platinum Paralegals for more information.
Overview of Paternity in California
In California, the word “paternity” interchanges with “parental relationship” and “parentage.” In California law, the identity of the father is assumed in situations such as:
- When the child has two legal parents, the mother’s husband is presumed to be the child’s father if the child is born during a marriage
- When a man lives in a family-like manner with a child and his mother, and demonstrates a commitment to the child, even if he is not the actual biological father
Apart from these two circumstances, paternity will need to be established.
How Paternity is Established
There are two ways to establish paternity:
- Through paternity action in court
When paternity is established voluntarily, the child’s parents agree to sign a “Voluntary Declaration of Paternity.” Upon giving birth to a child in a hospital or other medical setting, the parents of the baby (the mother and the baby’s alleged father) are given a “VDP” form to sign. By signing the voluntary declaration of paternity, the mother and father become the child’s legal parents. The father immediately gets parental rights and responsibilities to the child.
If paternity is established under California law and through a paternity action in court, any of the following persons or agencies have the right to ask the court for an order on paternity:
- The child’s mother
- The “alleged father” or “putative father,” i.e., the man who believes he’s the father of the child or who is identified as one
- An adoption agency or the local child support agency that is providing services to the mother
The court always works to find the legal option that is in the child’s best interest.
Starting the Case
The agency has the authority to require genetic tests of all parties involved (the mother, child, and alleged father) if a mom uses the state child support services. Genetic testing is also required when the mother also requests child support from the alleged father, welfare, or other public benefits. If the suspected father decides not to cooperate, the court is in the right to consider the father’s refusal to cooperate as evidence of paternity.
Also, the court can order:
- Child support
- Health insurance for the child
- Visitation, the non-custodial times when a parent will see the child
- Physical and legal custody of the child, i.e., the child’s place of residence and whether one or both parents will be able to make decisions for the child
- Payment of the genetic testing
- Payment of either party’s reasonable attorney’s fees
- Payment of court costs, i.e., the fees the court charges to start the case
California Law if very clear when it comes to family law. Still, if you want to be sure of your rights, consult with the right firm to help out. Platinum Paralegals offers consultation, guidance and help with actions like these. Talk to us for the best advice.