When a child is born to unmarried parents who are no longer in a relationship with one another, it is only natural that the child’s father wants to be a part of the child’s life. However, in order to seek visitation with or custody of the child, paternity needs to be established. It is important to note that paternity also needs to be established for an unmarried mother to seek child support.
How can you establish paternity in California?
Under California law, paternity can be established in two main ways. One is by signing a voluntary declaration of paternity. This can be done at the hospital when the child is born or with the California Department of Child Support Services if signed after the child is out of the hospital. The advantage to a voluntary declaration of paternity is that is has the effect of a court order without having to actually go to court.
A second way to establish paternity is through a court order. In such situations, the court may order a DNA test to confirm parentage. This is generally done through a cheek swab by the Department of Child Support Services. The court will not accept DNA tests performed at home or in a private health care facility.
Why is establishing paternity important to the child?
A child benefits from the establishment of paternity in many ways. Simply knowing who their father is can emotionally benefit the child. The child has the advantage of knowing family health history and also receives inheritance rights. In addition, establishing paternity provides the father to seek time in which to develop a positive and nurturing relationship with the child.
Learn more about fathers’ rights in California
Unmarried fathers in California cannot seek visitation or custody with their child until they are established as the child’s legal father. This post is for educational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. Our firm’s webpage on family law has more information that may be of interest to those who want to learn more about this topic.