California’s paternity laws provide a process for determining who a child’s legal father is. By establishing fatherhood, many other important questions can be answered. For example, will a child have a right to his or her father’s medical records to help identify inherited health problems and risks, will the child be able to benefit from his or her father’s health or life insurance coverage, have rights to social security or veterans benefits, and have the right to be financially supported and receive an inheritance from both parents? For a father, establishing a parent-child relationship gives rise to all the same rights and responsibilities of a father whose child was born during marriage. Once paternity is determined, a father will have the right to seek child custody and visitation, to be consulted about the child’s possible adoption, and can have the right to make certain legal decisions affecting the child.
With so much hinging on whether paternity has been established, it’s important to realize that under certain circumstances, California law will automatically presume someone to be the father of a child. For example, usually, a man is considered the legal father when:
– The child is born during the marriage, or when the child is born within 300 days of the marriage being terminated.
– The man and the child’s mother get married after the child’s birth (or in certain situations if the two attempt to marry).
– Both parents sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity, either at the hospital when the baby is born, or afterward.
– The man receives the child into his home, openly holding out the child as his own biological child.
Some of these presumptions can be challenged in court. If a voluntary declaration of paternity was signed, it may become necessary to seek to have the declaration overturned. In other situations where paternity is in dispute, either a mother or father can choose to start a legal action and require blood testing, but note that if certain legal presumptions apply, the blood tests can’t be admitted as evidence during the paternity suit. If someone refuses to submit to the blood test, then the court can resolve paternity against that person. Paternity law always raises critical questions of child custody and visitation and child support that can be handled as part of the paternity lawsuit. Our family law attorneys can help ensure that your child will receive the support that he or she is legally entitled to, or help secure your rights as a father. We’ll take the proper legal actions to establish parentage and seek the best custody and support arrangements possible. We recognize that the steps you take right now can affect you and your child for years to come, and we’ll work to resolve these issues fairly and properly. Contact Minella Law Group’s family law and paternity lawyers at (619) 289-7948.