In California, for unmarried couples and children born outside of marriage, paternity and. therefore, custody, visitation and support issues are not assumed by the law as they are for married couples. For married couples who divorce, paternity is assumed and custody of rights and support orders are determined as a category of the divorce proceedings. For unmarried couples with children, the court system will need to be accessed to determine issues of child custody and support.
In California, since 2005, when a child is born to registered domestic partners, the law assumes that the domestic partners are the child’s parents. However, it is still a good idea for same-sex parents to take special precaution in this type of scenario and consult with an attorney.
Paternity actions establish paternity and custody rights and child support orders for a child that was conceived outside of a marriage. Either party can file a paternity action.
Fathers typically file this action when they wish to secure custody and visitation rights and establish a custodial relationship with the child. By filing this action, the father will then be able to secure visitation and/or custody orders from the court.
Mothers generally file the action tosecure child support. This is necessary for receiving child support, as the court must establish a judgment of paternity. Without the court determining that the person in question is the biological father of the child and issuing a judgment of paternity, the court has no legal standing to make any binding orders regarding child support.
Receiving a Petition to Establish Paternity
If you are the recipient of a petition to establish paternity and you do not respond to the petition, the court can find a default judgment against you and find that you are the father of the child.
If you are the father of the child in question and you do not dispute paternity, then a simple court appearance in which you acknowledge paternity to the judge is all that you will need to do to comply with the petition.
Requesting a Paternity Test
If you have any doubts regarding paternity or dispute paternity, you will need to request that the court order a paternity test. This is important to do if you have any doubt as to the paternity of the child in question. In California, once paternity of a child has been established there is a statute of limitations of two years from the issue date of the paternity judgment for a party to contest paternity.
In most cases, contesting paternity beyond the two-year time window will not be successful. In such cases, while the father in question may not the be biological father of the child, the law views them as the legal father of the child and, as such, subject to child support orders until the child is of age.
Our office is experienced with paternity actions, as well as other areas of family law. Please contact the Law Offices of Renkin & Associates today for assistance in your child custody, support or visitation needs, or with any other family law matter.