Asserting your parental rights may seem daunting – especially without the help of a knowledgeable paternity lawyer. Whether your ties to your child are biological or not, you have parental rights. However, you must first establish your paternity legally.
What Is Paternity?
California interchangeably uses “parentage” and “paternity” in referring to a child’s legal parents. In a paternity case, the court makes an order that establishes who the legal parents are. Once the court establishes you as a legal parent, you are then subject to the rights, obligations and responsibilities for the child.
Establishing paternity means either the government or parents determined the identity of the child’s legal parents. When a couple is married and a child is born into that marriage (or, after January 1, 2005, when a child is born into a same-sex couple who are registered as domestic partners), the law assumes that the married persons or domestic partners are the child’s legal parents. This automatically establishes paternity. However, unmarried persons may need to legally establish a child’s parentage before the biological parent has any legal rights or responsibilities towards that child.
Reasons to Establish Paternity
The biggest reason to establish paternity is for the sake of the child. Not only will the child benefit emotionally from having both parents, but he or she will also have the rights and privileges of those children whose parents are married. These include:
- Both parents’ financial support
- Legal documentation identifying parents
- Access to family medical records and history
- Covered health and life insurance
- Right to inherit from either parents
- Right to receive veterans or social security benefits, if available
Establishing paternity also gives you all the rights and responsibilities of a parent, such as parenting time and financial support for your child. Once paternity is established, the court can then make orders for health insurance, child support, child custody and/or visitation, name change, reimbursement of pregnancy and birth expenses, and reunification services (services to help you get your child back into your care). An experienced paternity lawyer review your case and guide you through the paternity process. There have been instances in California where the court recognizes that a child has more than two parents, usually when the child would be hurt if additional parents were not legally recognized. A paternity lawyer can help you navigate complicated parentage laws to help you understand the details of your circumstances.
How to Establish Paternity
There are two ways to establish paternity:
- Signing a Declaration of Paternity – both parents must voluntarily sign this governmental form, establishing them as the legal parents of the child.
- Obtaining a court order establishing paternity.
If a biological father denies paternity, the court may order genetic testing of the mother, child and alleged father. Unmarried or unregistered same-sex couples could also establish paternity by proving that they intended to be the child’s parents and they behaved like the child’s parents.
Speak to a Paternity Lawyer
A seasoned paternity lawyer with the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks
can review your situation and help you throughout the paternity process. To schedule a no obligation consultation, call (559)222-4891