When a child is born to unmarried parents in California, paternity must be established before the child’s mother can seek child support and the child’s father can seek custody and visitation with his child. By establishing paternity, the man is legally deemed to be the child’s biological father, with all the rights and responsibilities that entails.
Establishing paternity benefits the child
Establishing paternity benefits the child in several ways. First, the child gains a sense of identity by knowing who both their parents are. The child receives financial support from both parents, has both parents named on their birth certificate, knows more about family and medical history and can be covered by either parent’s health insurance or life insurance. The child also gains inheritance rights.
How to establish paternity
An unmarried man is legally determined to be the child’s father in two ways. One way to establish paternity is to have both parents sign a voluntary declaration of parentage. This form is available in the hospital and can be signed when the child is born or afterwards. A voluntary declaration of paternity can only be signed voluntarily. This document is the equivalent of getting a court order, without having to go to court. The second way to establish paternity is to get a court order. Oftentimes this means getting a DNA test to establish parentage.
Children deserve the support of both of their parents and they deserve the opportunity to spend time with each of them. Establishing paternity is the first step an unmarried parent can take to seek child support or parenting time with their child.