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Do Unmarried Parents Have to Pay Child Support in California?

September 15, 2023, In Family Law

Our Los Angeles family law attorney at WHITMARSH FAMILY LAW, PC, knows couples do not have to be married to share children in California or elsewhere in the nation. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 39% of births throughout the state were given by unwed mothers — countless by choice. The Pew Research Center outlined the changing profile of unmarried parents, reporting a growing share of them living with a partner instead.

Our Los Angeles County family lawyer also knows that unwed couples can raise beautifully well-rounded children in loving homes, whether together or separately. Like when married parents divorce, unwed parents must make important decisions about their kids’ futures, including how they will share custody and which parent will pay child support.

Here, we discuss how the paying parent is determined.

How Married vs. Non-Married Parentage is Determined in California

When married couples have children, the law presumes both as biological parents. Should they divorce, there is usually no need to establish parentage. However, biological parentage is not automatically presumed when parents are unmarried.

Parentage must be established when unwed couples have a child and dissolve their relationship.

According to the California Family Courts, paternity is established when:

  • Both parents sign a declaration of paternity.
    • If it is signed at birth, both parents will appear on the birth certificate.
    • A new one can be issued with both names if signed after the birth certificate is issued.
  • Initiate a petition to establish paternity with the court to enforce a genetic DNA test that proves fatherhood.

California law recognizes both parents’ financial responsibility for supporting their children, regardless of their marital status. When unmarried parents have a child together, the noncustodial parent can be ordered by the court to pay child support to the custodial parent once paternity is established.

How Does the California Family Court Establish the Amount of Child Support?

California has established child support guidelines and a calculator that allows parents to estimate payment amounts. This approach examines multiple factors that outline the children’s needs and one or both parents’ ability to pay.

Those factors include, but are not limited to:

  • The number of children in need of support payments.
  • The existing time-sharing arrangement.
  • Both parents’ incomes.
  • Current child support obligations for children from previous relationships.
  • Health insurance expenses for the child.
  • Any mandatory financial contributions by the parents.
  • Job-related expenses.
  • Tax liabilities for both parents.
  • Other relevant costs related to healthcare, including vision and dental, as well as childcare costs necessary to advance the parents’ education, employment, or training.

Contact Our Family Law Attorney in Los Angeles, California Today

If you have questions about establishing paternity, child custody, and child support in California, contact our skilled family law attorneys in Los Angeles County at WHITMARSH FAMILY LAW, PC, by calling (310) 552-3505 to schedule a free consultation today. We can help provide solutions that produce results.

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If you are considering a Divorce in Los Angeles, CA, Contact our experienced Attorney Today and Get a Free Consultation.

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