Why do dads need to establish paternity in California?

By |2023-08-25T12:05:58+00:0027 Feb 2019|Categories: Family Law|


Going through any split can be difficult. Weathering one when you and your ex share a child and are unmarried can be particularly hard to cope with, especially if you’re a dad who hasn’t taken time to establish paternity of your son or daughter.

In California, unmarried fathers aren’t automatically considered to be the biological parent of a child, even if their name is on their birth certificate.

As you may imagine, this means that if you and your ex split up, they may decide to capitalize on the fact that you haven’t established your paternity to keep your kids from you. It’s unlikely that their attempt to do so will last very long, though, as they’re not entitled to child support until your parentage is established.

The way that California’s laws are currently written is that a father is only automatically recognized as a child’s biological parent if they’re married to the child’s mom at the time of the birth.

Even if a baby’s father is someone different, state law considers the husband and wife to be the biological parents of the child born to them any time after they’re married. If the couple divorces, then there’s no need for the couple to establish parentage as it’s already understood to exist.

Things are much different for unmarried couples, though. State law doesn’t presume that a child of an unmarried couple belongs to both members of that relationship. There are several ways in which a father in Orange can declare their paternity, though.

First, it’s possible for a dad to voluntarily sign a declaration acknowledging that you are the biological parent. If you’re unable or unwilling to do so, then you or your ex can file a parentage case, and a judge will make such a determination for you.

Once a father’s parentage is affirmed by the judge, they automatically are entitled to full parental rights and responsibilities. This means that a father can request visitation or custody and that they’re responsible for providing financial support for their child.

Unless a father establishes their paternity, then it’s impossible for child custody orders to be made. This can result in a judge setting child support to be paid at the maximum allowable amount. A family law attorney can go over considerations for both genders and aid you in establishing or disputing paternity.

About the Author:

Dorie Anne Rogers - The Law Offices of Dorie A. Rogers, APC
Dorie A. Rogers, a Family Law Specialist, Certified by the State Bar of California, has been an attorney since 1981 with an exclusive family law practice located in Orange County. She is accepting dissolution cases with support and property issues including the use of forensics to ascertain business value, community interests and to establish monthly case flow analysis. Ms. Rogers has substantial experience in high conflict custody litigation involving sophisticated psychological issues. She drafts premarital and postmarital agreement designed to define and establish parties' separate and community property interests. Paternity cases and domestic violence matters are considered part of her practice. Ms. Rogers is a court-approved and court-appointed to represent minor children.Ms. Rogers consults with individuals concerned about entering or exiting a relationship. She advises effective strategies for dissolution or premarital planning. Knowledge is power and good planning affords better results.Specialties: Family Law Specialist, Certified by the State Bar of California
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