Paternity Cases

Paternity cases, also known as parentage cases, are cases in which the judge grants a court order that establishes a child’s legal parents.

Paternity cases, also known as parentage cases, are cases in which the judge grants a court order that establishes a child’s legal parents.

Under California Family Code Section 7540, if both parents are married when the child is born, there is a legal presumption that the husband is the father and the wife is the mother of the child. In 2005, California’s Assembly Bill 205 established that there is a legal presumption that both domestic partners are the child’s parents if the parents are registered domestic partners when the child is born. But in other cases in which the parents are not married or registered domestic partners, parentage of the children needs to be legally established.

Why Paternity Must be Established

Generally, paternity needs to be legally established when the parents of a child were not married when the mother became pregnant or when the child was born. If you believe that you are the biological father of the child, but you are not married to the mother, you do not have any legal rights or responsibilities to the child until you legally establish your paternity. Thus, it is in your best interest to contact a paternity lawyer who will help you to legally establish paternity.

Parentage needs to be established before the court can order custody, visitation, child support, name change, and reimbursement of pregnancy and birth expenses. Thus, paternity becomes an issue in many child custody and child support cases. When parentage is in doubt, the court may order the alleged father, mother, and child to submit to genetic testing.

What Happens When Paternity is Established

When paternity is established, a judge will grant a court order stating who the legal parents of the child are. In some cases, you can establish your paternity without going through the court if both you and the other parent sign an official Declaration of Paternity.

If you are declared as the father of the child, you will gain the rights and responsibilities of a parent. You will be able to request that the judge establish custody and visitation orders for your child.

In addition, you will be responsible for financially supporting your child. You may have to pay child support and will be obligated to pay half of the uninsured health-costs for your child and half of the child-care costs.

How Parentage Affects Your Child

When paternity is established, the child would attain certain rights and privileges. For example, your child will have the right to:

  • Receive financial support from you and the other parent
  • Receive an inheritance from you and the other parent; AND
  • Receive social security benefits, veteran’s benefits, or workers’ compensation if they are available through you or the other parent

Your child would also be able to sue for the wrongful death of either you or the other parent. In addition, you may have access to your child’s medical records. Your child could also have your name or the other parent’s name inscribed on his or her birth certificate. Lastly, your child could also attain health and life insurance coverage from you or the other parent.

The benefits to the child in paternity cases go beyond the legal aspects. When it is determined who the parents of the child are, the child would receive an emotional benefit of knowing who his or her parents are.