As a California parent, there are a number of different reasons you may find it necessary to establish paternity. Maybe you know a man fathered your child, but he disputes your assertion and refuses to pay child support, or perhaps you are a father looking to obtain visitation custody or parental rights to your child. Regardless of your reasoning for doing so, however, there are certain steps you can take to legally establish parentage in California.
Your options for establishing paternity or parentage in California include the following:
Signing a voluntary Declaration of Paternity
Arguably the simplest way to establish paternity in California is to sign a voluntary Declaration of Paternity when your child is born, before you leave the hospital. You can also sign the declaration after the fact, but you must do so either at a specified public agency, or in the presence of a notary public.
Asking your child support agency to establish parentage
Another option you have if you are looking to obtain child support for a child who does not currently have a legal father is to request that your local child support agency establish parentage. Please keep in mind, though, that the person working to establish parentage under such circumstances does not, in fact, represent you legally, meaning the relationship between the two of you is not confidential.
Presenting your own case to the court
A third option for establishing paternity in California involves opening a case with the court. To do so, you must file specific paperwork and forms within the county where your child resides. Depending on certain circumstances, you may need to participate in a trial before a judge to establish paternity through this method.
Once you establish legal parentage, you can work toward other necessary arrangements, which might include custody, visitation or child support arrangements. In addition to allowing you to work through these and related matters, establishing paternity has many proven benefits for your child.