Guiding You Through California’s Paternity Process

Many children are born to couples who are not married. If you want to establish the parentage of your children, you have several options under California law. Parents must determine parentage to set legal rights, custody and visitation rights, and child support.

If you want to establish the paternity of your children, you may need to take legal action. Our experienced family law attorneys at Viola Law Firm can guide you through determining parentage and parental rights for your kids. Whether you want the right to spend time with your children or you want to pursue child support, you can discuss your situation with our expert San Mateo family lawyers. Please contact our Northern California law firm at 650-532-9389.

Declaration of Paternity or Parentage

For married couples, when a child is born during the union, family law presumes that both individuals have parental rights. In the case of nonmarried couples, a voluntary declaration of parentage can be signed, witnessed, and entered into a state database.

This is known as a judgment of paternity (parentage). It is a document that states that the signer is the child’s other (not the mother) legal parent. You can obtain a judgment of paternity in two ways:

  • The father can voluntarily sign a declaration of paternity when the baby is born. This requires the father to be aware of the child and involved in their life at birth.
  • One parent can obtain a court order stating the other parent’s identity.

Going to Court to Establish Paternity

Either parent can initiate a case to establish parentage. The first step is to file a petition to establish parental relations. This petition can include other requests such as custody, visitation, and support. After the petition is filed with the court, it is served on the other parent. That parent has 30 days to respond. That parent can admit to being the child’s parent and agree to any other requests or deny being the child’s parent and disagree with any further requests.

If there is an agreement, the parents can put that agreement in writing and submit it to the court without having to appear before a judge. If the parents cannot agree, a hearing will be scheduled. The court will examine each case’s circumstances and possibly genetic testing results.

Parental Rights FAQ

Establishing parental rights can be complex and time-consuming. At Viola Law Firm, we work to make the process as simple as possible for our clients by answering common questions like these:

What can I do if I am not married and want to establish myself as the parent?

One way of establishing parentage is by signing a voluntary declaration of paternity when the baby is born. The signing of this document will be witnessed by the hospital staff, who will forward the declaration to a state database. This has the same effect as a court judgment for paternity. Another way to establish a parental relationship is by filing a petition to establish parental relations with the court.

Do I still have parental rights if I have not seen my child or paid child support?

In most cases, yes. The failure to see a child or pay support does not generally affect your parental rights on its own.

Experienced Representation In Parental Rights Cases

At Viola Law Firm, we help clients with many complex issues concerning paternity and parental rights, including cases involving child support orders and custody and visitation agreements. To discuss your situation with an experienced attorney, contact us online or call 650-532-9389. Our lawyers serve clients in San Mateo County and throughout northern California.

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