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Disputing Paternity Under California Law

Posted on in Paternity

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.

If paternity had not previously been established, one parent may open a paternity case, and the other parent will be served with a Summons and Complaint Regarding Parental Obligations. After receiving these papers, a putative parent must respond within 30 days. If they fail to do so, the court may rule in favor of the petitioner and find that the respondent is the parent. When filing a response, a putative parent may state that they do not believe they are the child’s parent. In these cases, DNA testing will be performed to determine parentage.

If a child is born to a mother that is married, her husband is legally presumed to be the child’s parent. However, if the child’s paternity is uncertain, the husband, the child’s presumed father, or a guardian ad litem appointed to represent the child can file a motion to determine paternity through genetic testing. This must be done within two years of the child’s birth.

For parents who are in same-sex relationships, a partner may file a Petition to Establish Parental Relationship. If the other partner does not agree that they intended to be the child’s parent, they may dispute the parental relationship in their response to the petition. During a court hearing, they must provide evidence showing that they did not intend to have a parental relationship with the child.

Contact a Los Gatos Family Law Attorney

Paternity/parentage disputes can be complicated to resolve, but it is important to legally establish a child’s parentage, which will allow them to have a relationship with both parents and receive the financial support that will meet their needs. The Law Offices of Benita Ventresca can help you understand your rights and obligations in paternity disputes, and we will advocate for your interests throughout the legal process. Contact a Los Gatos, CA paternity lawyer today at 408-395-8822 to arrange a free consultation.



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20 S. Santa Cruz Ave., Suite 212
Los Gatos, CA 95030

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