Issues of paternity in a family can be an incredibly sensitive topic to resolve that can have a significant impact on the lives and futures of both parents and children involved. In these intricate, emotionally charged cases, a legal professional can help you discuss your options and successfully navigate the complexities of paternity law. The Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C. is well-equipped to handle such delicate, highly sensitive family law situations, with a team of compassionate, sympathetic professionals available to help you resolve any matters of paternity law.
San Mateo County Paternity Attorney Quick Links
- Benefits of a Lawyer
- Benefits of Establishing Paternity
- How to Establish Paternity
- Paternity for Married vs. Unmarried Couples
- Paternity Action Definition
- Proving and Disproving Paternity Action
- Refuting Paternity
- Contact Us
How a Lawyer in San Mateo County Can Help You Establish or Refute Paternity
A paternity case is often emotionally fraught and stressful for every member of the family involved. On top of the emotional toll of a parentage case, it can be difficult to navigate California’s confusing and constantly evolving paternity laws. Luckily, you do not have to handle a case on your own. You have the right to hire a paternity attorney in San Mateo County to represent you throughout the legal process.
Your lawyer can explain California’s paternity laws and how they may apply to your case, as well as list your legal options. An attorney will then custom-tailor a legal strategy to pursue your unique goals. Your lawyer can help you settle a paternity dispute out of court through alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or arbitration. If this is unsuccessful, your attorney can represent you during a paternity trial in San Mateo County.
From meeting legal deadlines and handling complicated legal paperwork to setting up DNA tests to serve as evidence during a paternity trial, the right attorney can help you efficiently and effectively resolve your case. Hiring a lawyer can relieve the burden of taking legal action from your shoulders, allowing you to focus your attention on yourself and your family.
The Benefits of Establishing Paternity
California law recognizes that the state has an interest in establishing paternity for all children. Paternity is critical in order to obtain a child support order and give children access to all of their legal rights and available benefits, including health insurance and inheritance. Paternity can provide a number of benefits not only to the child, but to the parents as well. Most importantly, it offers a chance for both father and child to establish a relationship as biological family members, and develop a true family in the years to come.
Additionally, establishing paternity also offers financial benefits. The child will be entitled to health insurance under his or her father, along with any necessary child support. The child will also have a right to inherit his or her father’s estate. Without establishing paternity, a child would have no legal entitlement to claim the benefits connected to his or her father – meaning the child would miss out on important financial support. Failing to establish paternity can also eliminate emotional ties that a child may otherwise develop with his or her father.
Establishing Paternity of Your Children
Ideally, in a family paternity is established voluntarily. That means that both parents agree to sign a voluntary declaration form acknowledging that they are the parents and that the father is the child’s legal father. Signing a voluntary declaration of parentage or paternity will confirm both parties to be the legal parents of the child. Usually, the signing of this form occurs at the hospital on the day that the child is born. It can also be signed later, in front of the correct parties, but if the birth certificate has already been issued, the parents will need to order a new one with both parents’ names.
However, some instances are not so straightforward, and often paternity can be disputed by both mother and father. In such cases, paternity must be established through the courts. This will require a paternity court case and a trial that both parents (and their lawyers, if desired) must attend. This instance can be infinitely more complicated, especially if the alleged father is not cooperative through the process. In these cases, it may be recommended to consult a paternity lawyer and explore your options.
Determining Paternity in Married vs. Unmarried Couples
Determining paternity differs greatly between married and unmarried couples. In a married couple, the husband is automatically presumed to be the father of any children born to his wife. Even in cases of assisted reproduction, such as artificial insemination, the husband is presumed to be the legal father of the child.
However, this presumed paternity may be withdrawn if court-authorized genetic testing reveals that the husband is not the child’s biological father.
In unmarried couples, fathers must voluntarily declare that they are the parents of a child born in a relationship with the mother. In the state of California, this is equivalent to a court-ordered judgment of paternity – and thus may be used as a basis for child custody, visitation, or child support.
If paternity is an issue among unmarried couples, the mother can petition the court to order genetic testing to provide verifiable evidence as a basis for any decisions regarding paternity.
What Is a Paternity Action?
A paternity action, referred to as a parentage action in the State of California, describes a legal process where the courts officially confirm the identity of the father of a child. During this type of case, the courts will listen to arguments given by both the attesting mother and attesting father of the child to prove or disprove paternity. Then, a judge will make a legally binding decision as to the parentage of the child based on the information provided.
Paternity actions are generally only necessary if the parents were unmarried at the time of the birth or if either parent wishes to dispute parentage. In California, the only parties that have the right to bring a paternity action are the child’s mother, an alleged or putative father, the child, and the state. A paternity action may be required if there are questions relating to child custody, visitation or child support during a divorce or legal separation case. This type of case may also be filed if a mother wishes to establish the identity of a child’s father. Finally, an adult child has the right to file a paternity action to establish parentage.
How Can We Prove or Disprove Paternity in California?
If you are brought into a paternity or parentage case in California, it is important to discuss your legal options with a paternity dispute lawyer in San Mateo County. A paternity lawyer can help you build a compelling case to support your argument either for or against paternity. At the Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C., we have years of experience, advanced legal resources and proven legal strategies to put toward winning parentage cases for our clients.
One of the main elements of a paternity case in California is DNA evidence. A DNA test is generally required by the courts during any case involving questions of parentage or paternity. The only time a DNA test may not be required is if the individual in question admits to being the child’s parent and the other party does not wish to dispute the claim. A positive DNA match, however, is not enough to establish parentage in California. To assign parental rights, legal parentage – not just biological paternity – must be established.
An attorney can help you get a DNA test ordered as part of your paternity case. If the test proves that an individual is the biological father of a child, this can help you establish legal parentage. If you are a presumed parent and a DNA test proves that you are not the biological father, this could convince the mother to drop the case against you. If not, your lawyer can help you prove that presumed paternity was false or fraudulent.
How Long Does a Father Have to Refute Paternity in California?
In a case involving married parents or a voluntary declaration of paternity, either parent has no more than 60 days from when the declaration was signed – either by the attesting father or attesting mother, whichever signed later – to file a rescission form with the Department of Child Support Services to rescind the declaration. There are exceptions, however, if the courts have entered an order for custody, visitation or child support that involves the party seeking to rescind a declaration of paternity.
If someone wishes to challenge, cancel or set aside a different type of declaration of parentage, they have no more than two years from the date that the initial declaration was filed with the Department of Child Support Services. If the father never signed the original declaration of parentage, or if it was signed before January 1, 2020, other time limits may apply based on the unique situation. California Family Code Chapter 3 was recently updated to reflect several changes that became operative on January 1, 2020. Speak to an attorney to find out how these changes might affect your specific paternity case.
The Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C. has been serving clients for more than 35 years, specializing in all matters of family law in San Mateo. Paternity can be a delicate, life-changing affair that can significantly affect the livelihood of everyone involved.
Our family law professionals put the needs of you and your children first, ensuring that the rights of you and your child are adequately protected through the entire process. We work diligently to provide sympathetic, compassionate legal counsel for those proving or disproving paternity, and give you help in your time of need.
If you have any issues or concerns regarding paternity in your family, please contact us online or call 415.834.1120.