Mothers cannot obtain child support until the paternity of the father is determined. On the flip side, fathers will not gain child custody until a paternity test proves the male in question is the father. Paternity is a complicated area of the law where emotions can run high.
Paternity refers to the legal determination of who is the biological father of a child. While the identity of a child’s biological mother is usually known, the father’s identity may not always be as certain. Paternity issues often arise in cases involving child support, but they can also be important in relation to adoption, inheritance, custody and visitation, health care and other issues.
Our lawyers can help either mothers or alleged fathers in paternity suits:
- Mothers: Establishing paternity is necessary for collecting back child support or establishing a future child support arrangement. Our lawyers can arrange for paternity tests and make sure that they are legally binding.
- Alleged fathers: Often, women will demand child support from men who are not the actual biological fathers. We can help men combat paternity fraud and stay away from unwarranted payments.
- We represent clients in cutting edge legal cases involving in vitro fertilization and custody of frozen embryos or access to frozen sperm when legal questions arise after a divorce or death.
- We help people in same-sex relationships to secure their parental rights prior to childbirth, to establish parental rights after birth or to secure parental rights after divorce or dissolution of a relationship.
Of course, not all cases fit into the above categories. For example, some fathers may want to establish paternity so that their children can get all the legal rights afforded to biological children, such as inheritance.
Representing both men and women in these cases, we keep all parties on equal footing as we explain paternity to our clients from the standpoint of both mothers and potential fathers. Unmarried parents have the same opportunity to have their custody disputes heard by the court as do married parents. When you are living apart, there may be issues as to who has the right to determine medical care, education and where the child lives. Spending time with your child may be difficult if the other parent does not agree.
There are several others ways to establish a parental relationship, including:
Form signed by the father at the hospital establishes paternity upon execution. Can be rescinded within 60 days of execution.
A court can order a parent, even if not the biological parent, to serve as the legal parent and enter a paternity judgment.
If a woman is artificially inseminated with a man’s sperm, with his written consent, the donor can be established as the legal father.
Under the case of Alyssa B., same sex parents can be established as the legal parents through a paternity action.
Parents who attempted to marry, but the marriage was void for some reason, will be the presumed parents in a child born of that relationship for purposes of establishing paternity.
In California, the establishment of paternity and the payment of child support do not by themselves give an unmarried father a secure right of visitation or shared parenting time. In fact, without a court order granting a right to joint legal custody with formal visitation rights, the child support obligation will reflect the presumption that the mother has custody of the child at all times, which means that the father’s child support obligation will not be discounted for any time that he actually has the child in his home overnight.
As experienced Sacramento Family Law Attorneys, our goal is to work in the best interests of the child at all times. If you are facing difficult decisions regarding paternity, please be assured that we will use our knowledge of the law and legal system to seek an arrangement that benefits you and your child.