Prior to a California court making a determination of child custody, child visitation and child support there first needs to be a determination of paternity and depending whether the parents are married or not, the law provides for different presumptions and procedures.
For example, when a married couple is living together and a child is born, as long as the husband is not impotent or sterile, it is presumed that the husband is the father. In several limited situations, this presumption may be challenged. .
If the parents of a child were never married there are different issues the parent must contemplate regarding the issue of paternity.
Parents who were not married may legally establish paternity through the execution of a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity, which is a document commonly available at any hospital. In essence, the voluntary declaration includes a statement by both the mother and father stating they each believe the declared father to be the child’s biological father and that they consent to paternity being legally established. When unmarried parents have a child born in a different state and the parents signed a voluntary declaration in that separate state, a California court will recognize a declaration signed in that different state.
The signing of the voluntary declaration does not prohibit the declared father from later having a court enter a formal judgment regarding paternity or having the voluntary declaration set aside if DNA tests show that he is not the biological father.
For the any unmarried parents that have never signed a voluntary declaration who wish to establish paternity, they must petition the court to determine paternity. This requires a parent to file a Petition to Establish Parental Relationship. However, the filing of a Petition to Establish Parental Relationship does not allow the court to make orders regarding child custody, child visitation and child support. The Petition to Establish Parental Relationship only allows the court to determine paternity and if a parent wants the court make orders regarding child custody, child visitation and child support, the parent must file a separate motion for those particular issues.
Once a Petition to Establish Parental Relationship has been filed by either parent, the parties can either reach an agreement if neither the father or mother contests the issue regarding who is the biological father. However, if neither party agrees a DNA test may be ordered by the court to either establish paternity or disestablish paternity.
At Beck Law P.C., our team of family law attorneys is experienced in all facets of paternity law and is able to guide parties through and intricacies of paternity, from either establishing paternity to contesting paternity.
Your free consultation regarding questions you may have about California paternity law, at Santa Rosa Attorney is confidential, as is the information discussed. You can contact our office for a free consultation at 707-576-7175 or contact us online.