Establishing Parentage In California

Although you have likely heard of the term “paternity,” you may be unfamiliar with what parentage is and why it is essential. When we talk about parentage, we are referring to when the court issues orders declaring who the legal parents are. If you are a married parent, parentage was likely determined without you knowing about it. In California, the law assumes that the married couple is the child’s parents. 

This is not the case when two unmarried people have a child together. This is of particular importance in terms of paternity. Imagine that a man has a child with a woman he is not married to, nor do they intend to marry. When the child is born, that man is not assumed to be the father. To have parental rights, he must prove that he is the child’s biological father. 

When you establish parentage, you receive a court order stating who the child’s legal parents are. Although we mentioned that men may need to pursue this to establish their parental rights and responsibilities, there are at least three reasons why parentage is important: custody, child support, and visitation. Until parentage has been established, the father doesn’t have the right to fight for custody or even have visitation rights. Establishing parentage or paternity would precede this request. 

Legal Responsibilities of Being a Parent 

Until now, we have explained why a father (or any biological parent) would want to establish paternity or parentage. However, it is essential to highlight that there are valid reasons why the mother would want another parent listed on the birth certificate. When you are a child’s legal parent, you are obligated to support the child financially. For example, if a woman has a child out of wedlock, she cannot seek:

  • Child support 
  • Child-care costs
  • Uninsured healthcare costs 

Ways of Establishing Parentage

You will be presumed as the father if:

  • You were married to the mother when the child was conceived or born (this is relevant even if there was an attempt to get married, but the marriage wasn’t legally valid).
  • The father married the mother after the birth but agreed to legally become the child’s father (this is an issue that needs to be discussed with an attorney).
  • The father raised the child like his own, and the court may recognize this person as the child’s legal father. 

In all scenarios, your name must be listed as one of the parents on the birth certificate. Unmarried couples who have a child can voluntarily sign a declaration of parentage to establish themselves as the child’s legal parents. If either parent refuses to sign, you must contact an attorney to take the issue to court. 

Meet with the Attorneys at the Grey Legal Group, APCThe compassionate and experienced attorneys at the Grey Legal Group, APC, will proudly assist you with many family law issues. Contact us today to schedule a consultation if you have concerns about child custody, paternity, visitation, step-parent adoption, or divorce, contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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The Grey Legal Group

At The Grey Legal Group, we believe in helping all families with their legal needs so they can be protected on your journey back to a calmer, happier place of stability. Whether it is divorce, child custody, guardianship, domestic violence, or adoption, we have seen it all before and we can help you through it. With the legal knowledge and experience we bring to the table, we will be certain to find the best and most efficient solution to your situation.

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