Central Valley and Stockton Paternity Lawyers
Paternity actions play a crucial role in many family law matters. Whether you’re a mother hoping to establish an absentee father’s paternity, or a father hoping to clarify — and subsequently formalize — the parent-child relationship, a paternity action is a fundamentally useful tool and typically requires the help of a paternity lawyer
Paternity actions must not be pigeonholed.
It’s important to recognize that paternity actions are initiated for a variety of reasons, and often under unique circumstances. Though paternity actions are commonly associated with absentee fathers (and with mothers attempting to secure necessary child support funds), many such actions are initiated by fathers who have been prevented from establishing a close relationship with their child and who wish to become more involved in raising that child.
What Rights and Obligations Does Paternity Grant in California?
Simply put, a biological father whose paternity has not been established (i.e., they fathered the child out of wedlock and did not engage in acts that would otherwise affirm their legal paternity) cannot be made to pay child support or court-ordered to take on custody or visitation responsibilities.
The primary rights and obligations granted by paternity are:
- The right to request custody and visitation orders from the court, and the responsibility to shoulder the burdens imposed by the court in that regard; and
- The responsibility to pay child support, healthcare costs (50 percent), and childcare costs (50 percent) resulting from the custodial parent working for having to attend school.
It’s worth reiterating: a father without paternity status has no rights or obligations toward the children at-issue. Not until their paternity has been established. Thus, the sooner a meeting with a paternity lawyer happens, the quicker other actions can commence.
Establishing Paternity with the Help of a Stockton Paternity Lawyer
If the parents were married at the time of their child’s birth, the husband is deemed the presumptive biological father — this presumption will not be overturned unless either parent (or a third-party) contests paternity within two years of birth.
Securing a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity in California
In some cases, neither parent wants to contest paternity, but would instead prefer to take steps to formally establish paternity and take responsibility over the child. In California, both parents may co-submit a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity form wherein they recognize that the male parent is the biological father with affirmative paternity status.
It’s worth noting that submitting a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity will waive the rights of either party to contest paternity at a later date (including the right to have a court determine paternity, the right to compel DNA testing for paternity status, and more), so both parents should make absolutely sure that they are ready and willing to waive such rights.
Initiating a Court Paternity Action
If both parties cannot come to an agreement, then a court paternity action may be necessary, though it is more time-consuming and can be more expensive. Petitioning the court to establish paternity does not mean that there will be genetic testing (though courts have the authority to compel DNA testing to determine paternity) — in many cases, the court will rely on a broader factual investigation to identify conduct that affirms paternity. For example, if the biological father publicly recognized the child as their own, and even signed off on the birth certificate as a parent, then the court may find it unnecessary to compel genetic testing.
Contact MCJG for Family Law Help with Your Paternity Matter
McKinley, Conger, Jolley & Galarneau, LLP is a full-service law firm committed to truly personalized, client-oriented representation. Over the years, we have advocated on behalf of clients in a wide variety of transactional and litigation-related matters, and have built an extensive — and well-reputed — family law practice.
If you’d like to speak to an experienced Stockton paternity attorney about the possibility of a paternity action, we encourage you to contact us at your earliest convenience. Call us at 209-477-8171 or schedule a consultation to get connected today.
We look forward to guiding you through this unique and potentially life-changing process.