Importance of Establishing Paternity

Paternity is proving the identity of a child’s father.  Since the mother gives birth to a child, maternity is automatically established under the law.  The father is presumed to be the mother’s spouse unless he disputes the claim.  In situations where the mother is not married to the father of the child, paternity must be established for the father to be recognized legally as the child’s father.  Once paternity is established, your child will have the same rights as children whose parents were married at the time of the child’s birth.  Benefits include:

  • Legal documentation identifying both birth parents
  • Right to obtain medical information from both parents to identify inherited health conditions
  • Birth certificate with the father’s name on it
  • Medical insurance from the parent with the best coverage
  • Child and other financial support for both parents

Even if parents of a child are not a legal couple when the child is born, they can legally identify the father by executing a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity.  It is not unusual for one or both parents to dispute the father’s identity.  If this occurs, a man who thinks there is a possibility he is the father can request a DNA paternity test.  UnderCalifornialaw, he has every right to establish his paternity.

A child’s paternity is important regardless of the relationship between his parents.  It does no matter if the parents were never married or are currently separated or divorced.  Legal paternity is required for men to receive custody of children or to setup visitation schedules.  The father is entitled to participate in certain decision making that affects his child.  In addition, the child has the right to get financial support from the father. Californialaw does not have a statute of limitations regarding the establishment of paternity.

It is not unheard of for current parents to establish paternity when there is doubt about the identity of the father.  To prevent a man from denying he is the father of child, the mother can file a lawsuit to establish paternity.  This makes sure the rights of the child are protected and that the father meets his obligations, both legal and financial, in relation to the child.  If the lawsuit actually results in a trial, the case will be heard by a California Superior Court judge.

A paternity lawsuit begins by filing a Complaint to Establish Parental Relationship with the courts.  The court is ultimately responsible for issuing a judgment or ruling on the case which is determined by default if the father does not show for the hearing, a trial that produced clear evidence of paternity, or by mutual agreement between the mother and alleged father.

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