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Paternity Lawyers in Los Angeles, CA
At WHITMARSH FAMILY LAW, PC, our Los Angeles paternity attorney believes in California’s father’s rights. Committed and responsible dads should have access to their children, so they can help shape their futures, even if their relationship with the child’s mother did not work out. Unfortunately, parental rights are not the same for everyone.
When children are born to married couples, there is rarely a question about who the parents are. California laws assume that the wife is the mother, and the husband is the father, essentially establishing paternity automatically. Both parents’ names appear on the birth certificate, and they are each responsible for the physical, emotional, psychological, and financial care of their children.
This law also applies to parents who are registered domestic partners at the time of a child’s birth and gives them the same rights as married couples would have when they have children together.
Outside of those two identifiable relationships, paternity in California can become trickier. Unfortunately, this can leave unwed fathers out of their children’s lives until they take the necessary legal steps to obtain or regain entry.
Our Los Angeles County paternity lawyer can provide the legal guidance and advice you need to enforce your rights as parents, so you have the positive parental relationships your children deserve. Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights and options.
HOW TO ESTABLISH PATERNITY IN CALIFORNIA
When married couples divorce or when domestic partners dissolve their relationships, they can determine child custody, visitation, and child support in private, during mediation, or inside the courtroom. When parents were never in a legal relationship, the legal route to determining these details requires establishing paternity first.
That can happen in one of two ways, according to the California Family Courts:
- Both parents can sign a voluntary declaration of paternity.
Unmarried parents may sign a voluntary declaration of paternity acknowledging that the man is the child’s father. This document is legally binding and provides the father with all the same legal rights and responsibilities as the mother — which includes child custody and support obligations.
If the declaration is signed at the time of the birth, both parents will appear on the birth certificate. If the declaration is signed after the birth certificate is issued, a new birth certificate can be issued with both parents’ names.
- Either parent can petition the California family court to order a DNA test.
There are multiple reasons either parent may petition the court for a DNA test. That may include the mother seeking familial background information or financial support, or the father wanting to pursue child custody or visitation, so he can be part of his child’s life. The court order will require the mother, father, and child to submit samples for genetic testing, which helps assess paternity.
WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES AFTER PATERNITY IS ESTABLISHED IN CALIFORNIA?
Once paternity is established, parents assume all rights and responsibilities that come with having children. That means that they can request custody and visitation, so they can be involved in their child’s life, and have a voice in how they are raised. It also means paying child support and covering essential costs for the child.
However, establishing paternity means more than legal rights. It means giving your children their complete identity, so they know who they are, and where they came from.
These facts are essential to any child’s growth, and can help:
- Establish their family identity.
- Add personal security.
- Increase self-esteem.
- Extend access to family relationships with aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents.
- Confirm the family’s history of medical health or genetic issues.
- Expand financial and social resources, including health insurance, Social Security, inheritance, or other benefits.
Establishing paternity comes with a tremendous upside for the children, both parents, and their extended families, as the more positive influences a child has, the more fulfilled they will be. If you would like help establishing paternity to expand your role in your child’s life, contact our skilled Los Angeles family law attorney today for help.
WHAT IF MY CHILD’S MOTHER DOES NOT WANT ME INVOLVED?
At WHITMARSH FAMILY LAW, PC, our Los Angeles paternity attorneys know that there are many reasons why parents part ways. When parents are married, the California family courts will determine custody based on the belief that both parents should be involved in their children’s lives. That is true for unmarried parents, too.
However, when parents divorce, they do not have to take any additional legal steps to prove their rights to their children. When they were never married, the mother holds most of the legal power, until the father establishes his rights.
Even if your child’s mother is resistant to your involvement — either because she moved on and is in another relationship, does not have a positive relationship with you or your family, or is opposed to a new partner in your life — California mothers may not keep fathers from participating in their child’s lives without cause or evidence that they are unfit once paternity is established.
Partnering with our skilled paternity lawyer in Los Angeles County will help ensure your child’s mother takes your legal pursuit and involvement seriously. We can help both you and her understand the California child custody, visitation, and support laws and rights related to your case, so you can move forward with becoming a part of your kid’s life without further delay.
AT WHITMARSH FAMILY LAW, PC, OUR FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY IN LOS ANGELES, CA FOCUSES ON THE FOLLOWING PRACTICE AREAS:
- Child Support
- Child Custody
- Spousal Support
- Domestic Violence
- Prenuptial Agreement
- Same-Sex Prenuptial Agreement
CONTACT OUR LOS ANGELES PATERNITY ATTORNEYS TODAY
If you or someone you know is experiencing an issue with paternity in Los Angeles, or if you are interested in establishing paternity, it is important to enlist the counsel of a Los Angeles paternity attorney, who can advise you of your legal rights and responsibilities as they exist under California law.
Our skilled Los Angeles Paternity Lawyers at WHITMARSH FAMILY LAW, PC can help. Our Los Angeles family law firm specializes exclusively in family law and features a legal team of highly skilled Los Angeles paternity attorneys who are well-versed in cases in the state of California. We know that dealing with family-related issues can be difficult, but our Los Angeles paternity lawyer is prepared to support you and your loved ones every step of the way.
Our dedicated Los Angeles Paternity attorneys at WHITMARSH FAMILY LAW, PC welcome your call today at (310) 552-3505 to schedule an initial consultation to assess your case. Contact our Los Angeles family law attorneys for more legal help.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FOR OUR PATERNITY ATTORNEYS IN LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
Who Pays for the DNA Test that Determines Paternity?
The cost of a paternity test depends on who administers the DNA extraction and provides the lab results. If the California Department of Child Support Services performs the test, there is typically no charge to either parent. However, if the court orders DNA testing, there could be a charge for the extraction and lab tests. The court will NOT accept DNA tests done at home or in a private medical facility as evidence in a parentage case unless the test has been ordered by the court.
How is DNA Obtained for Paternity Testing?
The professional performing the DNA test will do so by taking cheek swabs, also called buccal swabs, that are easy and painless to collect from the inner cheek lining of the mouth, using soft, cotton-tipped applicators. DNA can also be obtained through the extraction of blood.
Can I Seek a Paternity Test When the Other Parent Lives in a Different State?
With the help of a paternity attorney in California, we may be able to claim jurisdiction and establish paternity if the father previously lived in California, if the child was conceived in California, or if there is another basis for California to have authority over the case. If not, we can petition the jurisdiction where the father lives to establish paternity under their laws.
Can I Establish Paternity Without a California Family Law Attorney?
California law does not require either parent to partner with a family law attorney in California to prove parentage. However, the basis for establishing paternity is often accompanied by significant legal matters, like child custody, visitation, or financial matters. It is the latter that will require a skilled legal professional by your side. We can help, starting with a free initial case assessment today.
How Long Does it Take to Establish Paternity in California?
Each paternity case is unique and may take a different amount of time-based on multiple important factors. The first crucial factor is how quickly all parties involved can be located. Next, is whether they will voluntarily submit to DNA testing, or if collection requires a court order. Once the testing is completed, the next factor will be the time it takes for the lab to run the tests, establish the results, and return the information. With the help of our Los Angeles paternity attorney, we can help expedite the process, so you can focus on moving forward with confidence. Contact us today to learn more.