There are many men who father children in California each year. Sometimes the fathers are married to the mothers when the children are born and sometimes they are not. Whether or not the parents are married, it does not change the fact that the parents are the biological parents of the child, but it does change the parents legal rights to the child. Fathers who are not married to the mother of the child do not have a right to obtain legal rights to the child until paternity is established.
Fathers can establish paternity in a couple of different ways. One is by both parents signing a voluntary declaration of parentage or paternity. This is a document that the parents can sign at the hospital or later if done at an appropriate agency or notarized. The document states that the father is the father of the child and needs to be filed with California Department of Child Support Services to be valid.
The other way is to start a paternity action in court. Through this process the court will require the parents to go through DNA testing to determine whether the father’s DNA matches the child’s DNA. If there is a match, then the court may issue an order establishing paternity for the father. However, there could be a dispute and people could potentially challenge the results.
Establishing paternity in California is very important for fathers and children. Once paternity is established and the father has legal rights to the child, it allows the father to seek custody, to obtain medical records, allows the child to receive financial support from both parents, allows the child to inheritance from both parents and other benefits. If the parents agree to sign the voluntary declaration of parentage, it can be fairly easy to establish paternity, but court proceedings can become complicated. Experienced attorneys understand the complications that can arise and may be able to guide one through the process.