Paternity Actions

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Paternity Actions

Paternity Actions

Establishing paternity can significantly impact the child's economic, emotional, and psychological well-being, making it a vital aspect of their life. In San Diego, establishing paternity involves identifying the child’s legal and biological father, which can be done through a court order or mutual agreement between the parents.

The child's legal father is required to support the child and, in doing so, can rightfully seek custody or visitation rights with the kid. Custody and visitation arrangements can be determined once legal paternity has been established.

At Moshtael Family Law, our San Diego paternity action attorneys have the skills, experience and resources to provide you with outstanding legal counsel and support. We can assist mothers seeking to establish paternity for child support purposes as well as fathers who wish to prove their biological relationship to a child in order to maintain their visitation rights.

Our firm has successfully represented numerous San Diego residents in paternity cases, and we are committed to protecting your rights and strongly advocating for you throughout the legal process.

Why Establishing Paternity in San Diego is Important?

Under the state law, a child born out of wedlock is considered legitimate. Pertaining to this, merely including a father's name on a birth certificate is not conclusive evidence of paternity. Given that a father is not legally required to sign a birth certificate in San Diego, a mother may list anyone she wants or believes to be the father.

A paternity determination holds multiple legal implications for the father. In cases where a father contests parentage, he will be held responsible for providing support and fulfilling his share of parental responsibilities. It’s also noteworthy that if the child is born to unmarried parents, the birth father's consent is required before the mother can place the child for adoption.

Paternity determinations in San Diego are significant for mothers as they help secure financial support, custody, and visitation rights. For a child, the determination holds the right to receive necessary shelter, assistance, and emotional relief in knowing their biological father.

In addition to these implications, paternity also secures a child's right to inherit, access personal information regarding potential health risks and profiles of their paternal family, and the right to sue for damages or wrongful death resulting from the loss of their father.

Similarly, a child whose parentage has been proved may be eligible to receive workers' compensation, resulting from the father's death and other forms of dependent-based governmental assistance.

Determining Paternity in San Diego through DNA Testing

In San Diego paternity cases, DNA testing is the most scientific and reliable method of determining biological fatherhood. The alleged father must submit a DNA sample, usually a saliva swab, to disprove or prove his parentage.

DNA matching for paternity determinations has now replaced the traditional Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) Test (which was approximately 98% accurate). DNA testing is considered to have an almost conclusive accuracy (close to 100%), making it practically impossible to legally challenge or dispute the results.

Establishing Parentage in San Diego for Married Couples

Establishing parentage in San Diego usually involves a court order or an official Declaration of Parentage that identifies the legal parents of a child. This is a necessary step before a court can issue orders for visitation, custody, or child support payments. The legal requirements for establishing parentage depend on the parent’s circumstances at the time of the child's birth.

If a child is born when their parents are married, according to the law in California, it is presumed that the wife is the mother and the husband is the father. The legal marital status becomes the basis of establishing paternity in these cases.

Effective January 1st, 2005, the state law also assumes that registered domestic partners are the parents when a child is born. Furthermore, this is a relatively new law, and it’s best for same-sex parents to engage the services of our seasoned paternity action attorneys in San Diego to establish parentage.

Establishing Parentage in San Diego for Unmarried Couples

If the parents of a child were not married when the mother got pregnant or when the child was born, the child technically does not have a legal father until the couple legally establishes parenthood. Even if a father can demonstrate through genetic testing that the kid is his, he has no rights or legal obligations until the court establishes paternity.

Presumed Parentage in San Diego

The "parentage by estoppel" concept permits the family court in San Diego to determine that a man is the child's legal father even if he is not the biological father.

Regardless of the paternity test results, the judge will infer that a man is a child's father if he has lived with the mother and child and has exhibited an affinity to him. In certain situations, a mother would not be required to seek a paternity test to hold the father liable for child support in San Diego.

Voluntary Declaration of Paternity in San Diego

Signing a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity is the easiest way to prove paternity in San Diego. The mother and the father must sign this paper, often when an unmarried woman gives birth. By signing the document, both parties confirm they are the child's legal parents. In this case, the father has parental rights and obligations and can add his name to the birth certificate.

Paternity Action in a San Diego Family Court

Either parent may initiate a lawsuit in a San Diego family court to establish paternity. The following individuals have the legal standing to submit a paternity action request:

  • The mother of the unborn child/ child’s mother
  • The man who believes he has fathered the child/ the unborn child
  • A child support agency that perceives a neglectful situation exists
  • An adoption agency
  • A child who is 12 years old or above

The legal process is lengthy if a paternity order is submitted through the Child Support Services office in San Diego. Most people are eager to establish paternity quickly, and we encourage you to work with our seasoned San Diego paternity action lawyers to achieve a desirable outcome in the shortest possible time.

If the alleged father is uncooperative, the courts in San Diego may consider his noncooperation as proof of paternity. In this situation, you need a knowledgeable attorney to guide you. It's better for mothers seeking to establish the paternity of an alleged father who is uncooperative, to consult a lawyer.

Men may choose expert legal assistance when they face resistance from the child's mother or another person in the child's life, yet they believe they are the child's father. The legalities involved and the processes to be followed are complicated.

As a father seeking to prove paternity, you should have our dedicated San Diego paternity action attorneys on your side to achieve the best outcome. The family court in San Diego will not order DNA testing to establish paternity by default just because a petitioner filed an action.

The Legal Process for Determining Parentage in San Diego

The paternity determination process in San Diego is complex. You can save yourself considerable hassle and stress by contacting Moshtael Family Law attorneys before moving forth with any other action. The process for determining parentage in San Diego is outlined below:

You Will Need to File a Petition

A Summons and a copy of the Petition will be served to the Respondent. By serving the Summons, the alleged father is informed of their obligation to respond to the filing. As the petitioner, you must establish legal facts for the paternity action, which may include statements regarding:

  • A California paternity statute citation
  • Establishing the court's residency (including statements on the alleged father and the mother's residence to rule which court has jurisdiction)
  • The child’s complete name and date of birth
  • Relationship between the child and each party
  • Confirmation of the mother's marital status at the time of the child's birth and the identity of the spouse, if applicable
  • Status update on any ongoing custody or visitation proceedings pertaining to the child in question

The Judge Orders a Pretrial Hearing

After evaluating the circumstances, the judge in San Diego will recommend the next course of action, which may involve proceeding with the trial, negotiating a settlement, or dismissing the case altogether.

Requirement of Genetic Testing

This scenario may surface if one of the parties in a San Diego paternity lawsuit refuses to accept the court's rulings. In these cases, the county superior court can order genetic testing for the alleged father, the mother, and the child.

The case goes to trial if the mother or the alleged father refuses the final recommendation. The case duration varies depending on its unique circumstances. It is best to pursue a paternity case soon after the child's birth. It benefits both parents and, more so, the child. The process has several stages, such as establishing paternity, addressing visitation and custody orders, and various financial matters.

At Moshtael Family Law, our paternity lawyers can help you navigate even the most complex cases to achieve a favorable outcome as far as possible in your paternity case in San Diego.

How is Parentage Established in Same-Sex Couple Cases in San Diego?

Parentage rules in San Diego for same-sex couples, whether married or not, are similar to those for unmarried heterosexual couples. Depending on the specifics of their relationship, same-sex partners have two choices to establish parentage.

For certain same-sex couples, the initial approach to establishing parentage involves completing a Declaration of Parentage form. This document can be signed either during the child's birth or later and must be submitted to the Department of Child Support Services.

A voluntarily signed and correctly submitted Declaration of Parentage form carries the same weight as a parentage order from the family court in San Diego. The other person gets legal recognition as the child’s parent.

Same-sex couples in San Diego can complete the Declaration of Parentage to confirm parentage if they are unmarried/married and have a child conceived through a sperm and/or egg donation from a party other than the birthing parent's spouse. They cannot use this form if their child was born through surrogacy.

The alternate legal avenue to establishing parentage involves obtaining a court order in San Diego. This approach becomes necessary if the couple was ineligible to sign the Declaration of Parentage or did not, such as in cases where they were unmarried. If the individuals were in a same-sex marriage or registered domestic partnership at the child's conception or birth, a parentage case may not be necessary.

Legal Implications of Domestic Violence in a San Diego Paternity Action

In domestic violence cases, while the paternity action is active in San Diego, the mother and child's safety becomes a top priority. The state's Domestic Violence Prevention Act (DVPA) governs handling issues related to domestic violence. Pertaining to this, the DVPA grants San Diego judges the authority to issue injunctions against any form of domestic violence, including:

  • Prohibiting contact between the minor child and their alleged abuser
  • Granting custody of a minor child to the other parent, allowing them to reside in the family home
  • Removing the alleged abuser from the family home
  • Prohibiting the possession or use of firearms

Restraining Order in a San Diego Paternity Action

Apart from the authority conferred upon the San Diego courts by the DVPA, domestic violence victims can obtain a restraining order against the alleged abuser, even if the person has filed a paternity action. In San Diego, it is possible to get a temporary restraining order without notifying the alleged abuser by submitting a request for a "Temporary Restraining Order" to a family court in the county.

FAQs on Paternity Action in San Diego

Why are married parents in San Diego not required to file a paternity action?

In San Diego, there is a presumption of paternity in the case of a married couple where the husband is assumed to be the legal father of the child if the child is born during the marriage or within 300 days of the annulment, divorce, or death of either parent. It also means they have legal rights concerning that child.

Where can a paternity action be filed in San Diego?

San Diego courts can issue a paternity judgment only if the child was conceived/born/artificially inseminated within the county. If the petitioners do not meet these criteria, they must file a parentage action in the jurisdiction where the conception, birth, or artificial insemination occurred.

Based on this, even if the child is conceived or born outside San Diego, a county court may still have the authority to hear and issue orders related to parentage and the child. This would depend on factors such as the duration the child has resided in San Diego.

Do parents fighting a paternity case have to share pregnancy and childbirth costs?

Parents in San Diego may wonder if they have to share pregnancy and childbirth-related costs when contesting a paternity case. A mother may request the court to order the father to split these expenses, and the court will often grant reimbursement if such costs exist. It’s crucial to note that the mother is not solely responsible for the financial obligations of bringing a child into the world.

This request can be made via the Petition to Establish a Parental Relationship. The party that requests it must provide evidence that they have made these payments. They must also include details of these expenses when they file a motion for reimbursement or in the list of items to be addressed at trial. Following these steps properly will generally result in the court ordering the other parent to pay half the necessary costs.

Who is a “putative” father in San Diego?

The legal term "putative father” in San Diego refers to a man who is presumed to be the legal father of a child, even if he is not the biological father. This can happen when the man has established a parental relationship with the child through marriage or publicly acknowledging the child as his own. The court can still recognize him as the legal father and hold him responsible for child support and other legal obligations, even if genetic testing proves he’s not the biological father.

Can I seek to overturn a San Diego paternity judgment that names me as the father?

The answer is: it depends. Specific rules permit the voiding of paternity judgments, but there are strict timing requirements for filing a motion to do so. Overturning a paternity judgment can also result in the nullification of a parent's child support obligation.

It’s a salient idea to seek the legal advice of a skilled attorney as soon as possible upon learning of such a judgment or when your wages are being garnished for a support order. You should consult with our San Diego paternity action lawyers promptly to discuss this matter.

How do I amend or change a child’s name on their birth certificate in San Diego?

You will have to approach the family court to request the change or amendment of a child's name. If both parents agree, they can file a stipulation (agreement) with the family court. If they don’t agree on the name change or one of the parents contests it, the judge will conduct the mandated best interests analysis based on the motion filed in family court.

Our Trusted Paternity Lawyers in San Diego are Ready to Help You

Navigating paternity law in California can be a complex and confusing process for individuals, especially when the matter involves issues such as child custody, visitation rights, and child support. Having our skilled and experienced San Diego paternity action lawyers by your side is crucial to ensure that your rights are protected and that the child's best interests are taken into account.

Our dedicated and compassionate paternity lawyers at Moshtael Family Law understand that every San Diego paternity case is unique. Not every case requires complex and extended court proceedings to establish parental responsibility. We take a personalized approach to each case, developing strategies tailored to your individual circumstances.

In some cases, once the court in San Diego establishes paternity, the father may be able to assert his rights to visitation, contest adoptions, or even seek child custody. Our paternity attorneys in San Diego work with all parties involved to determine the best course to protect the child's well-being.

At Moshtael Family Law, we prioritize the child's best interests and pursue additional legal actions in the San Diego family court to ensure they have the best possible life. If you need legal assistance with your paternity action, call us at 619-639-9898 or contact us online to find out how our paternity lawyers can help you in your case.

Please call or contact our office online to arrange for an appointment about your case today.

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