Establishing Paternity in California: What You Need to Know

Establishing Paternity in California: What You Need to Know

Posted By Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich || 14-Apr-2016

In family law disputes regarding child custody or child support in California, it is of utmost importance to know who is the child’s father. Many judges presiding over a divorce proceeding will not finalize their ruling until paternity is officially established. But how can this be done? If there was ever any doubt about who was the rightful father, can there ever be any certainty?

The Many Ways of Establishing Paternity in California

People often regard California as a fairly lenient state when it comes to laws and regulations, and so it is for family law issues regarding paternity. There are several ways of either establishing paternity or being granted paternity rights automatically by law.

  1. Marriage: When a mother gives birth to a child, if she is married, her husband will automatically be considered the legal father of the child by California State paternity laws.
  2. Familiarity: A man who lives with a mother and her child in a familial setting will be granted paternity rights by the State if he expresses his desire to raise and care for the child, and has noticeably made an effort to do so.
  3. VDP: If a woman who is not married gives birth in an official medical environment, such as a hospital or birthing clinic, she will be handed a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity form. The mother may then choose to sign this form with the man claiming to be the father’s child, establishing paternity regardless of actual bloodline connections.

The Science of Paternity Testing

The final way to establish paternity is the most complicated, and involves a court order. If legal paternity had never been established through any of the aforementioned methods, or if there is reasonable grounds to doubt the legal paternity, the issue can be taken to court by the mother, the father, or a concerned adoption agency. In such situations, the court will most likely mandate genetic testing be conducted upon the mother, her child, and the contending father.

In recent years, the technology of genetic testing has advanced considerably. Blood tests only require the slightest pinprick of blood to create a viable sample. The blood of the father and the mother are then examined, revealing their inherent DNA coding, or an STR (short tandem repeat) profile. The child’s STR profile should consist of one-half the mother’s codes and one-half the father’s. If a significant number of STR fragments cannot be matched to the father’s, he is not the biological father and will be denied paternity.

After Paternity Has Been Established

The benefits of establishing paternity, clear and concise through scientific methods, can apply to the mother, the father, and the child. Many mothers who require child support payments to raise their child will only be granted them once paternity is determined. On the other end of the spectrum, there are numerous incidents of father’s being denied the right to see their children simply because paternity was not confirmed. It can also be beneficial for a child’s psychological health to know for certain who their father is.

The bottom line is that if you are thinking about establishing paternity for any reason, you should not hesitate to do so. You can find more information about establishing paternity on the California Courts website, however, it is important to have the guidance of a lawyer to ensure all processes are followed correctly.

At Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich, our Murrieta family law attorneys can offer you 30+ years of family law experience and the attention of our certified family law specialist, Attorney Danica Hanich, when facing with complications regarding paternity. Call 951.506.6654 today to schedule a FREE case evaluation.

Categories: Custody, Family Law, Paternity