At MacKay & Martin, LLP, our family law lawyers understand the delicate nature of paternity cases. We believe that part of providing excellent legal representation is to help our clients minimize stress. For that reason, we help our clients understand the legal process of establishing paternity. If you are experiencing a legal issue involving establishing paternity, we can help
Our Los Angeles Paternity Lawyers Will Fight for You
Establishing or disproving paternity is often necessary in child custody and child support cases. Nonetheless, establishing paternity in Los Angeles can be challenging and complicated. In a paternity case, a family court judge will determine the child's legal parents. After determining paternity, courts will issue an official Declaration of Paternity. Until parenting becomes established, Los Angeles family courts will not make child support and child custody determinations. Establishing paternity can be an emotionally stressful yet necessary part of family law matters. Hiring experienced paternity lawyers who are well-versed in California family law can help you fight for your legal rights.
Establishing Paternity When the Parents Were Married
California family law assumes that when parents conceive a child during a marriage, the wife is the mother, and the husband is the father. When the wife is cohabitating with her husband at the time of conception, and the husband is not sterile or impotent, the husband is conclusively presumed to be the child's father. The father can challenge the paternity, however, by a court-ordered genetic test. However, an individual must request the test within two years of the birth of the child.
Establishing Paternity When the Parents Were Not Married
When the child's parents were unmarried at the time of conception, the child does not have a legally recognized father until the court establishes paternity. Even when the father has proof that he is the child's biological father, when the mother and father were not married, the paternity will not become legally established until a court legally establishes parentage.
The parents can fill out a voluntary declaration of paternity. When the mother and father fill out a voluntary declaration of paternity, paternity becomes established. The parents must file the voluntary declaration with the State Department of Child Services. Once the parents file the document, it will establish paternity with the same legal effect as the judgment of the court. In some circumstances, California courts apply the common law doctrine of de facto parentage when a person provides a parental role to a child, and a court awards parentage to that person, even if he or she isn't the biological or adoptive parent to the child.
Court-Ordered Genetic Testing in California
A California family law judge can order the man identified as the father to take part in genetic testing. The genetic test will state conclusively whether or not the presumed parent is, in fact, a biological parent. Only the husband, child, mother, or a “presumed parent” can request a court order for a genetic paternity test. Los Angeles child support agencies also have the right to petition the court to issue an order for genetic testing, but only when the genetic paternity test is relevant to the child support issue.
Consequences of Genetic Paternity Test
Establishing paternity can be important for several reasons. First, knowing the identity of one's parents can be an essential part of a child's emotional development. Second, sometimes establishing paternity is necessary so that a child can gain medical information about a biological parent for proper medical treatment and diagnosis.
During a legal separation, divorce, or annulment, establishing paternity can become important. Establishing paternity can be a way to protect the rights of a child formally. When a California court determines paternity, a child is entitled to the same privileges and rights as another child whose parents are married. Once the court establishes paternity, the child will have the following rights:
- The right to inherit as an heir from either parent
- Financial support from both established parents
- Life insurance and health insurance coverage from either parent
- Financial support from both parents
- Legal documentation that identifies both parents
- Any available veteran's benefits and Social Security benefits
- Naming both parents on the child's birth certificate
Establishing paternity is an essential part of fighting for a right to child custody as a father.
When determining child custody, California courts consider the best interests of the children. Family court judges analyze a variety of factors and the facts and circumstances of each unique case.
Establishing Paternity and Child Support in Los Angeles
When the results of the paternity test show that the man in question is the biological father, paternity becomes established legally. After paternity becomes legally established, the father will have a legal obligation to provide child support. Child support obligations typically remain until the child is age 19. When the child's circumstances require longer child support, a judge may require extended support past the age of 19.
Contact Our Experienced California Paternity Lawyers
At MacKay & Martin, LLP, our lawyers understand how difficult parentage issues can be to work through. We prioritize our clients' needs and work hard to help protect their rights. We offer our individualized representation for each client on a variety of paternity matters. Our attorneys will take the time to listen and learn about your situation and guide you through the paternity process.
We'll help you understand genetic paternity testing, the process of establishing child support, child custody, and other critical parental rights. Our law firm also represents clients who need to challenge paternity in Los Angeles. If you are seeking custody rights to your child, or if you're trying to establish paternity to secure child support, our law firm can help. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation and learn how we can help you.