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.
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.
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.
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Dana Heyde was responsive to my questions and offered valuable options and recommendations. I was very pleased with how responsive and helpful Dana Heyde was. She kept me informed at every phase and was helpful in managing the cost and time involved.
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