Paternity - An adult male and young child are smiling at the camera. The child is on the man's back.

Paternity or Parentage

Why Unmarried Couples Need to Assert their Child Custody or Child Support Rights.

Parents have the same custody and support rights to their children when they are unmarried. When a child is born during a marriage, it is legally presumed that the mother’s husband is the father. However, if the parents are unmarried, the paternity of the child must be established before support and custody can commence. (Cal. Fam. Code §7601).

Establishing paternity protects both the father and the mother. A man does not have any legal obligation to support a child that is not his. If a paternity test shows that a man is the child’s father, he will be legally obligated to pay child support until the child turns 18. A father then has the legal right to custody and visitation.

Paternity can be established in three ways.

1. Both (unmarried) parents can sign a voluntary declaration of parentage. (Cal. Fam. Code § 7573). This can be done at the hospital when the baby is born or at a later time.

2. Either parent can contact a local child support agency to determine paternity.

3. Either parent can go to court to establish parentage. This involves filling out, serving, and filing forms with the court, and possibly having a trial before a judge. The agency or court can determine paternity by ordering a genetic test.

Parties who agree on the paternity can resolve the issues of custody, visitation and child support orders without going to court. It is important that all informal agreements be fully documented and signed by a Judge.

The family law attorneys at Cottle Keen Lopiccolo & Heyde have established paternity in court and by agreement. At CKLH we are committed to serving the best interest of the family by obtaining custody or support orders for parents.

Custody and Visitation

While the case is pending, temporary custody or visitation may be granted to the presumed father if the court determines it would be in the best interest of the child and a parent-child relationship exists between the presumed father and the child. (Cal. Fam. Code §7604.) This custody and visitation schedule would be temporary and replaced by the final order.
Click here to learn more about custody and visitation.

Child Support Orders

The parents of a child have an obligation to provide financial support regardless of whether they were married.
Click here to learn more about child support.

Attorney’s Fees

Unlike other areas of the law the Family Code provides that one party can pay for the other’s attorney’s fees so that there is equality in the legal process.

This legal right is not automatic. You must be prepared to present the Court with the evidence necessary to obtain or defeat an attorney’s fee request. The family law attorneys at Cottle Keen Lopiccolo & Heyde can help you understand whether you have a right to attorney’s fees or if you have exposure to paying for your spouse’s attorney. Call to request a consultation today.

The attorneys at Cottle Keen Lopiccolo & Heyde are passionate about helping families resolve paternity matters.

To speak with an experienced attorney in Cottle Keen Lopiccolo & Heyde’s family law practice, please call (714) 997-7870, or click here to contact CKLH by email.

Contact Us Today

Cottle Keen Lopiccolo & Heyde, LLP
254 S. Glassell Street
Orange, CA 92866

(714) 997-7870

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