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.
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.
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.
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.