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Establishing Parentage (Paternity) in California

Posted by attorney Rebekah Main

You want to establish parentage to either obtain court ordered child support, secure a custody and visitation order or to simply clarify your relationship as a family if you are not married or registered as domestic partners. "Establishing parentage" is a legal determination of who the legal parents of a child are, if the parents were not married when the child was born. If the parents were married when the child was born, the law usually considers the husband to be the father.

After January 1, 2005, if parents are registered domestic partners when a child is born, the law assumes that the domestic partners are parents just as with marriage. However, since this law is new and unsettled, same sex domestic partners should get legal advice to make sure that the parentage is clear. Parents who are not married when a child is born can sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity before they leave the hospital, or after. When people who are not married can't agree about parentage, the court can order genetic testing. Usually a child's parentage must be established before one parent can get court ordered child support or custody and visitation orders. You can ask the judge for child support or custody and visitation as part of a case that establishes the parentage of a child.

BE AWARE! If a person is established as a legal parent of a child, that person MUST support the child. It's a crime for a legal parent to fail to support his or her child. A legal parent also has the right to get custody and/or visitation rights related to the child. The two main forms that you need to start the process are: Summons (Uniform Parentage-Petition for Custody and Support) FL-210 Petition to Establish Parental Relationship (Uniform Parentage) FL-200

Additional resources provided by the author

Your local Family Law Facilitator or California Child Support Services can provide more information. Good luck to you!

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