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Los Gatos, CA paternity dispute lawyerAlthough the paternity of a child is sometimes pretty cut and dry, there are some circumstances in which one parent or the other wishes to dispute parentage. The process is easier to start if parentage has not yet been legally established. However, if parentage has already been determined by a court order, you may not be able to fight it. In these cases, it is crucial to work with a skilled family law attorney who can protect the rights of all parties involved.

If Parentage Has Not Been Legally Determined

If a child is born to married parents or adopted by a married couple, the parentage is legally presumed. This also extends to couples who are domestic partners. In biological paternity cases, either party may request a DNA test, which will prove whether a man is the child’s biological father. To do so, you will have to fill out the proper forms for the court. An experienced family law attorney can help walk you through the process. If a paternity test shows that the child in question is yours, you may then pursue a custody agreement, or you may be required to pay child support.

In same-sex and/or adoptive cases, a paternity test may not solve the issue of parentage. A parent may be able to demonstrate that they are the child’s biological parent, but if the other party wants to prove legal parentage, or if the couple adopted the child, then these are situations in which both parents may need to sign a voluntary Declaration of Paternity. If all are in agreement on the declaration, then the custody agreement can be worked out after that.

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Los Gatos paternity rights attorneyModern families come in all shapes and sizes, and establishing paternity for some children is not always as simple as it may be in the case of a married couple. When a child is born or adopted within a marriage, both spouses are assumed to be the legal parents of the child. This applies for both heterosexual and same-sex marriages or domestic partnerships. 

According to California law, in the case of an unmarried couple’s child, paternity (also known as parentage) must be established through a court order or through the voluntary signing of a Declaration of Paternity. No custody and visitation agreements or child support orders can be set up until the parentage of the child is determined legally.

Determining Parentage in Different Types of Relationships

If an unmarried heterosexual couple has a child, the mother who gives birth to the child is obviously known, but the father may need to take a paternity test in order to prove parentage. In the case of a same-sex female couple, a mother who gives birth is, again, already clear, but the other mother must provide proof that she and her former partner had intended to parent the child together. For the child of a same-sex male couple, the spouses will have to prove that they had both planned to be parents of the child. In some cases, more than two parents may be named, if it is determined that loss of any existing relationship with a particular parenting figure may be detrimental to the child.

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CA family lawyerIn the past, families typically consisted of a married mother and father with one or more children. However, many of today’s families are much more complicated. Parents may be unmarried, or they may have divorced and remarried, with multiple children from different relationships. In addition, children may be born to or adopted by parents in same-sex relationships. Due to the complex nature of modern families, establishing legal paternity/parentage for children is more important than ever. However, a child’s putative parent may not be the actual parent, and in these cases, they should understand their options for disputing paternity.

Methods for Disputing Parentage

A parent who wishes to dispute a child’s paternity must follow different procedures depending on whether and how paternity was previously established. In many cases, parents will voluntarily sign a Declaration of Paternity form when the child is born. If the parentage of the child comes into question after signing this form, either parent may file a Declaration of Paternity Rescission form within 60 days after the Declaration of Paternity form was signed. The other parent will be served with a copy of the petition, and a court hearing will be held. Genetic testing may be ordered to determine the child’s biological parentage.

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Posted on in Paternity

California divorce lawyerIn California, having a legal mother and father can be very beneficial to a child. But not every child is born to a family with a legal father. California recognizes a child’s legal paternity if the parents are married at the time of the child’s birth, or if the father is living with the mother and child in a family-like situation and demonstrates a commitment to the child. But if California does not automatically recognize a child’s paternity, there are two ways to establish it.

Voluntary Declaration of Paternity

If a child’s mother and father wish to voluntarily establish the child’s paternity, they may sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity (VDP) form, acknowledging that they are the child’s parents. If the mother gives birth in a hospital, the hospital will provide her with the form, and, if the father signs at the hospital, his name will be put on the child’s birth certificate. If the parents sign the VDP later, a new birth certificate, including the father’s name, can be issued.

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California family lawyerRaising a child on your own is hard work. It is one thing if you chose to be a single mother, or if the father of the child has passed away, or if there is been an amicable split resulting in sole custody. If, however, you need and deserve the support of the father of the child but are not receiving it, that is very different. It is, you will be relieved to learn, possible to obtain a child support order in a California court, compelling the child’s father to pay child support on a regular basis.

When this process becomes saddled with an unwanted layer of complexity, however, is when there is a dispute as to who is the father of the child. Obviously, only the biological father of the child may be compelled by a state court to furnish child support payments. Prerequisite to a child support order, in some cases as you have now likely deduced, is establishing paternity. Help with paternity matters of all kinds is available from a dedicated Los Gatos family law attorney.

A DNA Test May Be Used to Establish Paternity

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