Establishing paternity in California helps fathers establish themselves as the legal and biological father of a child. 

If the parents were legally married when the child was born, parentage, and in turn, paternity is usually assumed. On the other hand, unmarried parents will need to establish parentage by signing a declaration of parentage or by obtaining a court order. 

Once paternity is established, the legal father will have the right to be involved in the child’s life and receive visitation and custody rights.

Fathers who are given full custody also have the right to seek child support from the other parent.  

For the children, establishing paternity has a whole host of other benefits. Some of them include:

  • Health and life insurance coverage from both parents
  • The right to inherit from either parent
  • The legal father can sign documents on behalf of the child, such as releases and permission forms

This blog post will cover everything you need to know about paternity establishment.

How California Paternity Is Established When A Couple Is Married

If a child is conceived and born while the parents are married, California courts will assume that the husband is the rightful father of the child unless there’s some contestation in the first two years. After a child’s second birthday, a father can no longer contest paternity, even if it’s later proven that he is not the biological father.

In some cases, courts can prioritize a stable marriage over biological connections. However, if the husband feels as though his son or daughter isn’t his biological child, the father can request a paternity test regardless of the child’s age. If it is proven that the husband is not the biological father after the child’s second birthday, the husband will still be legally and financially responsible for the well-being of the child. 

When A Couple Is Not Married

Things can get quite complicated when the child’s parents aren’t married. However, if the man has been living with the child and taking care of the child, courts will usually assume that he is the father. The parents can mutually and voluntarily sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity. Note that once this form is signed, he waives any right to contest paternity in the future. 

On the other hand, if the man hasn’t been living in a family-like environment with the child, a paternity test is required for the man to receive visitation and custody rights.

Any man – married or unmarried and regardless of the living circumstances, can request a paternity test to ensure he remains in the child’s life and avoid any life-changing surprises later on.

In fact, paternity can be legally established up to 3 years after the child’s 18th birthday.

How to Establish California Paternity When The Man And Woman Agree On Parentage

To establish paternity quickly, you can sign a “Voluntary Declaration of Paternity” form. This voluntary declaration of paternity indicates that both parents are the child’s parents. Additionally, the form can be found at hospitals and courts if you choose to sign it later. However, this legal documentation must be signed by both parents to be recognized. 

Once the form has been signed, the man is now the legal father and has visitation, legal, and physical custody rights to the right. On top of that, he must support the child financially. 

Visit the Westover Law Group website today if you’re about to go through a divorce or child custody case.

At Westover Law, we provide passionate and determined legal advocacy for people coping with complex family law issues, including paternity cases. Contact us today if you need help with establishing paternity in California.