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Law Offices of Benita Ventresca408-395-8822
20 S. Santa Cruz Ave., Suite 212, Los Gatos, CA 95030
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Establishing Paternity in California

Posted on in Paternity

California paternity attorneyIn 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. A Sunnyvale paternity attorney can help.

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.

Once a child’s parents have signed a VDP, it is very difficult to undo paternity. But if one or both parents change their minds after signing, they may file a Declaration of Paternity Rescission form with the court within 60 days of the signing of the VDP. The VDP may also be challenged in court within two years of the child’s birth if the form was signed by fraud or by force, or if genetic tests prove that the man is not the child’s biological father.


The other method of establishing paternity in California is through the court. Several parties may ask the court to establish a child’s parentage, including:

  • The mother;
  • The putative father;
  • A local child support agency, if it is providing services to the mother; or
  • An adoption agency.

If the case is brought to court, the court may order genetic testing on the mother, putative father, and child. If the putative father does not cooperate with testing, the court can consider it as evidence of paternity. When a Sunnyvale family law attorney files a paternity action, the court may also order child support, custody, visitation, health insurance, and the payment of costs and fees.


A seasoned Sunnyvale family law attorney can explain the main benefits of establishing paternity, which often include financial support and access to health care for the child. The child also becomes an heir to its father’s estate, and may be eligible for other benefits if the father is a veteran or is disabled.

Fathers may want to establish paternity because they want to become part of their children’s lives. Establishing paternity means that both parents have equal responsibility and equal rights to custody. If a father does not have legal paternity, a mother or other party may interfere with his parental rights.

If you wish to establish your child’s paternity, an attorney can guide you through the process. Please contact a skilled Los Gatos family law attorney from Ventresca Law Firm at 408-395-8822. We service clients in the Los Gatos, Sunnyvale, Saratoga, Cupertino, and San Jose areas.




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Law Offices of Benita Ventresca

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

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Conveniently located in downtown los gatos and
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