20 Aug How do you establish paternity in California?
Paternity can often be a complicated issue. There is a common perception among many people that courts often prefer to award custody to mothers. However, with the shift in gender roles that has been going on since the 1970s, fathers have also expressed their desire to play a more significant role in their children’s lives. Establishing parenthood then becomes a vital process.
Establishment of paternity is the process to determine the legal and biological father of a child. While married parents automatically establish their paternity, it may be a complex process in the case of unmarried parents. Paternity may be established by signing a declaration of paternity voluntarily. The parents may sign the necessary form right after the child is born.
Under California law, unmarried parents gain the same rights as married parents after signing the declaration of paternity. Paternal rights and responsibilities may include financial support of the minor child, as well as providing medical and educational benefits. The Department of Child Support of California has partnered with hospitals and clinics in order to encourage the legal nexus between children and fathers by establishing the paternity opportunity program. The program encourages establishing paternity, thereby giving legal rights to all fathers, both married and unmarried.
In some cases, the father may leave California before the child is born. But, if paternity has been established without the father’s cooperation, the courts may still order the biological father to pay child support. A parent may need to get more information in order to start the process of establishing paternity of the child. Under California law, a parent can begin the paperwork even before the child is born in order to speed up the process.
Source: ChildSup.CA.gov, “Paternity means fatherhood,” accessed on Aug. 14, 2014