Paternity actions deal with establishing parentage, legally showing that a man is the father of a child. These are complex matters involving heightened emotions as well as the future of the child or children in question. Additionally, paternity will be directly entwined with child custody, visitation, and child support. You need to be certain that your rights and interests are protected in any paternity action.
Paternity is an important focus of our practice here at Moshtael Family Law. Our Orange County paternity attorneys know just how much of an impact such an action may have on every aspect of your life, not to mention the life of the child. Whether you are a father looking to establish paternity to gain custody or visitation rights, are a mother who needs to establish paternity to seek support, or are a man who has had a paternity claim against him, we can help. We can analyze the situation at hand, discuss and determine your goals, and get to work immediately to achieve these.
In California, when a child is born, parents who are married or in a domestic partnership are automatically considered that child’s legal parents. Unmarried parents, however, face specific challenges. A Declaration of Paternity must be issued before a court will issue any order involving child custody, visitation, or support. If paternity is contested, the court may order mandatory genetic testing of the father, mother, and child.
With paternity comes specific rights and responsibilities:
When you involve an Orange County paternity lawyer at Moshtael Family Law, you will get a complete education on your rights and responsibilities, and the steps that need to be taken in your paternity action. Our goal is effective and affordable legal counsel, and we provide this based on over 130 years of combined family law experience.
Ideally, paternity should be established at the hospital when the baby is born (or as soon as possible thereafter.) It is important to determine paternity as soon as possible because the court will not make any orders regarding visitation, custody, or support until paternity is legally established.
A DOP is a legal form that both parents sign voluntarily either at the hospital when the child is born or shortly after that establishes who the father of the child is without the parents needing to go to court.
But if a Parent Doesn’t Sign a DOP voluntarily, then how does paternity get established?
In these cases, the mother will need to file a petition with the court (the father can also file a petition to be served to the mother) and then the parents will be summoned to the court to begin the process of establishing paternity.
What if a man does not think he's the biological father of a child, even if the woman thinks that he is?
This is where genetic tests – likely a DNA test – is used to determine the child’s biological father. The court will order this testing, and it can only be done by agencies that the court has pre-approved. Sometimes, the costs of such tests are passed on directly to the parties involved in the matter.
Can a woman receive child support from a man she thinks is the father, even if paternity has not been established?
No. For the court to order someone to pay child support, paternity must be established. By law, parents are required to support their children financially, so it is in the child’s best interest for paternity to be established as soon as possible.
Yes, but only by court order.
No, this is illegal.
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