Paternity Lawyers in Los Angeles, CA
Paternity/Parentage in California
Paternity, or parentage, as it is commonly referred to these days, refers to the legal state of being someone’s parent. In paternity cases, it is up to the court to determine who a child’s legal parents are.
If a child is born during the course of a marriage, there is rarely a question about who the parents are. California state law assumes that the wife is the mother and the husband is the father, essentially establishing paternity automatically.
This law also applies to parents who are registered domestic partners at the time of a child’s birth.
However, in cases where parents are unmarried, paternity of their children must be established legally.
What Does Establishing Paternity Mean?
Establishing paternity requires a court order or an official Declaration of Paternity that declares who a child’s legal parents are. So, in cases where a couple was not married when the child was born, the child does not legally have a father until paternity is officially established.
Unless paternity has been established, a court cannot make decisions regarding child custody, child support or visitation. Establishing paternity is a prerequisite. However, it is possible to request that a judge attach child custody, support or visitation orders in cases determining paternity.
Sometimes, an individual may not admit that they are the parent, or may dispute paternity. In these cases, a court may order that the mother, father and child submit samples for genetic testing, which helps assess paternity.
Once paternity is established, the parents assume all rights and responsibilities that come with being a parent. That means that they can request custody and visitation orders from a court, so that they can legally visit with their child. It also means paying child support, and covering essential costs for the child.
Once a person has legally been established as a parent to a child, they are obligated to financially support the child. Failure to do so can result in legal action.
Why Establishing Paternity Is Important
Establishing paternity is important for a number of reasons, many of which involve the well being of the child. In addition to the emotional benefit that comes with knowing who their parents are, a child with two established parents is also entitled to the same rights as children of married parents.
Such legal privileges include:
- Legal documentation that identifies both parents
- Continued financial support from both parents
- Health insurance coverage from a parent
- Life insurance coverage from a parent
- The right to accept social security or veteran’s benefits, in applicable cases
- Access to family history, including medical records
- Having both parents named on the birth certificate
- The right to inherit from a parent
Even in cases where paternity is disputed, or if a parent is financially unable to support a child at the current time, it is still wise to establish paternity. Doing so can allow a child access to these legal benefits, even down the line.
Legal Assistance in Paternity Cases
If you or someone you know is experiencing an issue with paternity, or if you are looking to establish paternity, it is important to enlist the counsel of a family law attorney, who can advise you of your legal rights and responsibilities as they exist under California law.
That’s where the skilled attorneys at Whitmarsh Family Law, PC can help. Our firm specializes exclusively in family law, and features a team of highly skilled attorneys who are well versed in paternity cases in the state of California. We know that dealing with family-related issues can be difficult, but our attorneys are prepared to support you and your loved ones every step of the way.
Our dedicated attorneys at Whitmarsh Family Law, PC welcome your call today at (310) 552-3505 to schedule an initial consultation to assess your paternity case.