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How Can I Establish Paternity in California?
You have three options for establishing paternity:
- Sign a legal document affirming the father is the biological parent. If both unmarried parents voluntarily sign a Declaration of Paternity, also called a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP), it will establish legal paternity. If either parent doubts the man’s biological relation to the child, they should not sign the VAP without a DNA or paternity test.
- File a paternity lawsuit in family court. By filing a paternity lawsuit, either a mother or father can seek to establish legal paternity. If the parents agree on paternity (but did not have the opportunity to sign the VAP), this can be an uncontested case. If the parties do not agree, the court will order a DNA test. The DNA test is painless and typically only involves swabbing the inside of the mouths of the mother, father and child.
- An administrative agency may seek to establish parentage. If a mother is receiving government benefits for a dependent child who does not have a legal father, the administrative agency may seek to establish paternity, child support and reimbursement of benefits paid to the state.
Consequently, once you establish legal paternity, the parties can then agree on child custody, child support and visitation rights. If the parties do not agree, the court will conduct a hearing and decide the issues in the best interests of the child.
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At no cost to you, you can visit our office and find answers to all the questions you have about the path that lies ahead of you. You can call us at (949) 649-0610, fill out our online contact form, or stop by for a free and confidential consultation with an experienced attorney. We can then answer all of your family law questions.