The claim that you are the father of a child can be intimidating.  Our top family law attorneys at Walzer Melcher LLP can discuss your options when you are establishing paternity in California. We discuss testing options, what you are obligated to pay in child support and other expenses, and, if you are deemed to be the parent, your rights to exercise your custodial rights.

The Ins and Outs of Paternity Litigation

There are a variety of instances that may require paternity to be determined. The most common case typically involves parents who were not married at the time of the child’s birth or at the time that the child was conceived. These numerous laws that are involved tend to be overwhelming and complicated, making it necessary to consult with an attorney in order to ensure that you understand your rights and have representation that can enable you to secure those rights.

The Importance of Determining Paternity

A paternity action establishes the parentage of a child. Establishing parentage means determining who are the legal parents of a child. Parentage must be established before a court can order visitation, custody, or child support for a child whose parents were unmarried at the time of his or her birth. There are many legal, financial, and ethical issues and they can be overwhelming for all parties involved. If the parties cannot agree on parentage, the Court can order genetic testing. If DNA tests show that you are the biological parent of the child in question, you can be held responsible as a parent even if you only had one sexual encounter. This means you will be responsible for paying child support. You also have rights to custody of your child.

Circumstances In Which Paternity Is Presumed

There are a variety of circumstances in which paternity of a child is presumed, without a declaration of paternity. If the child’s parents were married during the birth or conception, if the parents attempted to get married before the child’s birth, or if the man has given permission to be named as the father on the child’s birth certificate, then paternity is often assumed. Also, cases in which the father has been ordered to support the child or has allowed for the child to live with him as his natural son or daughter for some time typically result in paternity being presumed by the courts. Another example of this is when the child’s parents file for divorce within 300 days of the child’s birth.

Understanding a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity

There are cases which can be more complicated in nature, such as those that involve a man signing a voluntary declaration of paternity only to find out that he may not actually be the biological father of the child. In these situations, the court must determine whether or not the man is legally the father and if the voluntary declaration of paternity is to be set aside or upheld. Issues such as the child’s age and the length of time that has passed since signing the declaration, as well as the relationship between the man and the child, will be considered.

Our top family law attorneys at Walzer Melcher are experienced in the area of parental rights. We have worked on a number of cases involving the determination of paternity and can assist you in protecting your rights and achieving the legal outcome you deserve. If you would like more information, please call or email us for a consultation.