Establishing Parentage in the Separation of Unmarried Parents

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

orange county child custody attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmIn custody cases involving married parties, wherein a couple was married when their child was born, the court of law automatically assumes that the wife is the child’s mother and the husband his father. However, in the event that a child was born without his or her parents being legally wedded, the court of law needs to establish the parentage of the unmarried couple. A relatively recent law in California states that if the parents of a child are legally registered as domestic partners, then they will be considered as the child’s legal parents too. However, owing to the fact that the law is still rarely used and quite unsettled, it is advisable for same sex parents to obtain legal consultation from a professional attorney in order to establish their parentage over the child.

What is the legal implication of establishing parentage? 

The state law of California stipulates that an unmarried couple is required to obtain a court order to establish their legal parentage over their children. The parentage can also be established by signing a legal ‘Declaration of Paternity’ which states that the couple is the legal parent of the child in question and is obligated to contribute for his care and support. To cite an example, if a child is born to the female spouse before she was married, the parentage of the father needs to be established in order to provide him the legal right to the child. This implies that even if the male spouse was the biological father of the child, he cannot exercise his rights unless he receives a court order that states his parentage as legal. 

Why is it important to establish the parentage? 

It is essential for an unmarried couple to get its parentage established by the court of law, in order to be eligible for requesting custody, visitation or support of the child in the event of a divorce or a legal separation. The request for the custody or visitation may be applied in conjunction with the paternity case in the court of law. However, once the parentage has been established, the individual or couple needs to adhere to both their rights as well as their responsibilities as the parent of the child.

The individual will then be eligible for requesting the custody or visitation of the child. In addition to this, he or she will also be obligated to make adequate contribution towards the support and healthcare insurance costs for the child.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

Disputing Parentage and Genetic Testing

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmAs per the statutes of the California law, a male partner who is being established as the legal father of a child, has the right to dispute his parentage and request to undergo a DNA analysis or genetic testing to establish the authenticity of his biological relationship with the child. Since the DNA of every individual is unique and usually a child inherits several sets of DNA from both his father and mother, an analysis of the DNA coding can be a sure shot way of determining the biological relationship between the parents and the child. The parentage laws in California are quite complex. There are several cases, wherein an individual is declared by the court of law as the legal father of the child, even though the genetic tests prove otherwise.

When can you request a paternity test?

More often than not, it is advisable to go for a paternity test at the very beginning of a case. If an individual receives a Summons and Complaint Regarding Parental Obligation by an individual or Local child support agency, he has a period of 30 days from the date of being served with the legal documents, within which he can file for a response and request a paternity test to establish the parentage. In the event that the individual fails to respond to the complaint within 30 days of being served, the court of law has the right to attribute him with the legal parentage even without a paternity test. 

How to proceed after the results of the paternity tests are out?

Once the results for the genetic testing are determined, you can consult your lawyer to assist you in deciding upon the most favorable option for you to proceed with. For example, if the test result reveals a high probability of you being the biological father of the child, you have the option of either accepting the parentage or going to the court for contesting the paternity case. If however, the test results reveal that there are extremely low chances of you being the father of the child, the parentage case filed against you will be automatically dismissed by the court. In addition to this, if an individual does not approve of the test results, he has the right to request a re-analysis of his DNA at extra charges.

Generally, if a court has already issued an order establishing your paternity with the child, it is nearly impossible to dispute the verdict and request for a genetic test.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

No Legal Advice Intended: This website includes information about legal issues and legal developments. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You should contact an attorney for advice on specific legal problems. Full disclaimer.