Unmarried Parents Have The Same Custodial Rights As Married Parents
Establishing the paternity of a child can have important emotional and legal consequences. For instance, California law requires that the paternity of a child be legally established in order for an unmarried mother to receive court-mandated child support or for an unmarried father to petition for child custody or visitation rights. Once paternity is established, however, unmarried parents have the same rights, obligations and benefits as married parents.
At the Law Offices of Dorie A Rogers, our team understands how emotionally challenging paternity disputes can be for everyone involved. Questioning one’s relationship with their child or attempting to secure rightfully owed child support can be incredibly difficult without the right legal support. Our firm is dedicated to providing comprehensive legal representation in all family law matters, including paternity disputes.
If you need to resolve a paternity dispute in Orange County, we can help. Whether you are a father trying to assert his parental rights or a mother attempting to hold a father responsible for child support, we can guide you through the legal motions that your case entails and enable you to approach the situation with confidence. Our firm will provide responsive and compassionate representation in resolving your paternity dispute.
At The Law Offices of Dorie A. Rogers, APC
We assist both women and men in a broad range of paternity matters, including filing paternity lawsuits and defending against paternity actions. With more than 30 years of experience and a long history of proven results, we have the knowledge and resources to help you understand your rights and intelligently navigate the paternity process.
Whether you wish to establish or dispute paternity, timing is of the essence. If you wait too long, you may lose certain rights. California state law allows an individual to establish paternity of a child up to three months following the child’s 18th birthday. If a child is born to married parents, the state automatically assumes the husband is the father. If the husband has doubts, he has two years to secure a court order for a blood test to establish paternity. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with an experienced Orange County paternity attorney.
We Help Clients Who Wish To Establish Or Dispute Paternity
Whether you want to establish or dispute paternity, the first step is to arrange for a DNA test. Our law firm guides clients through the legal and technical aspects of paternity testing, including scheduling DNA tests, analyzing the results and evaluating next steps in the paternity litigation process.
A DNA test is a relatively straightforward process, and a high-quality lab can produce an accurate result quite rapidly. However, if you have any reason to doubt the validity of a paternity test or the testing lab responsible for handling the testing samples used in your case has a history of errors, call us. It’s essential to work closely with your attorney to determine the validity of the test or whether you need a new one. The test itself is painless and takes only a few moments; the lengthy part is waiting for the lab to process the results.
It’s important to note that at-home tests will not satisfy the court’s need for clear and convincing evidence, nor can they be used to disprove formal court-ordered paternity test results. However, at-home tests could become evidence in future paternity dispute proceedings to show that a parent had doubts about paternity for a good reason and held those doubts for a long time. Consult with your Orange County family law attorney to determine which evidence could be helpful in your paternity dispute case.
Paternity · Considerations For Women
There are many benefits to establishing the paternity of a child, including:
- The right to seek child support payments. If the parents of the child were married at the time of the child’s birth, there will automatically be a legal link to the father when it comes to child support. However, unmarried mothers will need to establish paternity through a court-ordered test to secure child support from an alleged father.
- The establishment of the child’s right as an heir to the father’s estate. California law has specific laws in place regarding the intestate succession of property from parent to child. In some cases, it’s essential to conduct a paternity test to determine a child’s right to a parent’s inheritance or power of attorney for a parent.
- The establishment of the child’s right to claim Social Security death benefits from the father. The Social Security Administration has strict rules in place when it comes to benefits paid to a representative of the actual beneficiary and the disbursement of death benefits. They may require a paternity test as proof of claim over death benefits.
- The establishment of the child’s right to medical coverage under the father’s health benefits. Private insurance carriers also have the right to demand a paternity test when an alleged child seeks to use a parent’s medical insurance coverage for their own treatment.
These are just a few ways a paternity test can provide a woman with security and peace of mind when it comes to raising her child and the child’s future rights to property inheritance and different types of benefits. At the Law Offices of Dorie A. Rogers, our team is committed to determining the best approach to every unique case we accept.
Paternity · Considerations For Men
Men who wish to dispute a paternity lawsuit must take immediate action. We can help you respond to the lawsuit, obtain accurate DNA testing and defend your rights in court if necessary.
If you wish to establish paternity of a child, we can help you go through the proper channels. Once your parental rights are established, we can assist you with petitioning the court for visitation, joint custody or even sole custody of your child.
An establishment of paternity also brings parental obligations, which usually include child support payments until the child reaches the age of majority. Our team will work closely with you to determine your goals in terms of custody, visitation, and support of your child. We can also help to ensure that future family law proceedings regarding your child are fair and reasonable.
How Does the Court Determine Child Custody?
If parents are divorcing or if unmarried parents are negotiating child support, a paternity test is likely to come into play. Parents can mediate child custody between themselves and develop a parenting plan if they do not wish to be married as they raise their child. However, if the parents cannot agree on child custody, the decision will fall to a family court judge.
A judge will look at various factors when determining an appropriate child support arrangement, regardless of whether the parents are married. The judge may want to see a paternity test before proceeding with the case, or the judge may order a paternity test before the case even begins. Once paternity is established, California state law dictates that the biological parents are responsible for the care and support of a child unless someone else has offered to adopt the child or act as the child’s legal guardian with the parents’ consent. Paternity is the first determining factor a judge will consider when determining child custody and child support.
Next, the judge will assess the individual living situations of both of the parents. If both parents are capable of meeting their child’s needs independently and both parents are capable of being responsible, competent parents for their child, the judge may order joint custody on a schedule that benefits the child most. Since very young infants physically rely on their mothers more than their fathers, a judge may order joint custody in favor of the mother for the first few years of a child’s life and then expand the father’s custody rights over time. If the judge deems child support is necessary, the amount of support paid each month depends on the economic situation of the paying parent and the needs of the child.
Tustin Lawyer For Unmarried Parents With Custody Issues
Paternity disputes are far more common among unmarried parents than married ones. However, it’s easy for an unmarried parent to feel as though they do not have as many legal rights as they actually do under California state law. It’s vital for a parent concerned about their child’s paternity to know the legal procedures in place that can help them answer their questions and assert their rights under the law. Unmarried parents have just as many rights when it comes to their children and the family court system as married parents. To learn more about paternity in Orange County or Riverside County, California, please contact The Law Offices of Dorie A. Rogers, APC, at 714-602-1492 to schedule a consultation.
“Dorie is a very powerful attorney and a great asset to have on your side in any family legal matter. She is extremely bright and insightful, and I got everything I asked for in my lawsuit.”
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Additionally, Dorie took the time to understand me and my background to better represent me in my case. She showed a level of caring and concern that helped me through a very difficult time. She is an outstanding lawyer and wonderful person.”
“Second to none – I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Dorie to anyone. She was my attorney for my divorce and custody case. She will do everything it takes to get the job done and all with a smile on her face. Her knowledge and expertise will assist anyone in a family law situation get the results they want.”