Child custody, child support and child visitation time are often hotly contested issues in California divorce cases, and in many instances, properly addressing these sensitive matters involves establishing the identity of a child’s biological father. Paternity cases in Los Angeles are often stressful and fraught with emotion, and it’s easy to feel anxious and out of control when attempting to navigate the complex California legal system, which is why it’s so important to have an experienced attorney on your side when establishing or defending against paternity actions in Los Angeles. If you are seeking to prove or challenge paternity in California, don’t wait to get legal help. Many people experience fear and anxiety when faced with a claim of paternity, but establishing or disproving paternity can be as simple as making a phone call to an experienced attorney. Contact our legal team at Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles today for a free initial paternity consultation.
Affordable Los Angeles Paternity Attorney
Establishing or disproving paternity in Los Angeles can be a complicated matter, and our lawyers will take the time to learn the particulars of your situation and ensure that you are aware of every option available to you under California law. We can guide you through the process of establishing or disproving paternity, from undergoing genetic testing to establishing child support, child custody and other parental rights. There is a lot of uncertainty and confusion when it comes to paternity and parental rights in California. For instance, most people assume that the court will automatically rule in favor of the mother when dealing with child custody, visitation and other parental right issues. However, the main focus of the California court system in these matters is the best interest of the child, which means each paternity action is evaluated based on the unique circumstances of that individual case. It is the goal of our attorneys at Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles to provide you with a fast and fair resolution to your paternity case, whether you are seeking to establish paternity or challenge it.
Establishing or Disproving Paternity in Los Angeles
Determining paternity in the state of California is the process by which the court determines the identity of a child’s biological father. Paternity actions in Los Angeles are typically initiated as the first step towards filing a request for child support with the court, which the state declares “provides children with equal rights and access to benefits, including, but not limited to, social security, health insurance, survivors’ benefits, military benefits, and inheritance rights.” There are several methods that can be used to establish paternity in Los Angeles, with the main deciding factor being the status of the parents’ relationship at the time of the child’s conception or birth.
Establishing Paternity if the Parents Were Married at the Time of Conception
If the parents were married at the time of conception, California Family Code § 7540 dictates that “the child of a wife cohabitating with her husband, who is not impotent or sterile, is conclusively presumed to be a child of the marriage.” The child’s paternity is subject to rebuttal through a court-ordered genetic test, but the test must be requested within two years of the child’s birth.
Establishing Paternity if the Parents Were Not Married at the Time of Conception
If the parents were unmarried at the time of conception, California Family Code § 7570 dictates that paternity can be established by voluntary declaration. Under this provision, if the man identified as the father by the child’s mother fills out a voluntary declaration of paternity form and files it with the State Department of Child Services, paternity is established with the same effect as a judgment of parentage issued by the court.
Determining Paternity through Court-Ordered Genetic Testing
In a civil action in which determining paternity is a key factor, the court may order the man identified as the child’s father to submit to genetic testing as a means of determining paternity. Under California Family Code § 7541, in order to request a genetic paternity test, you must either be the husband, child, mother or a “presumed parent.” A local child support agency providing support enforcement services also has the power to issue an order for genetic testing if establishing paternity is relevant to the support action.
How a Paternity Test Can Affect You
Determining paternity is important for a number of reasons. First, knowing the identity of his or her father is important to a child’s emotional development. Second, accurate knowledge of family medical history is sometimes necessary for a child to receive the proper medical diagnosis and treatment. According to the California court system, determining paternity entitles a child to the same rights and privileges as a child whose parents are married, including, but not limited to:
- Financial support from both parents;
- The right to inherit from either parent;
- Health and life insurance coverage from either parent;
- Legal documentation identifying both parents;
- Having the names of both parents on the child’s birth certificate; and
- Social security and veteran’s benefits, if available.
In Los Angeles, an order to determine paternity is typically initiated as a precursor to a child support or child custody action as a part of divorce proceedings. This means that, if your spouse can prove that you are the father of her child, the court can order you to make child support payments. On the other side of the coin, if a father was never married to his child’s mother, he does not legally have any parental rights with respect to the child until his parentage is legally established by the court, even if he can prove that he is the child’s biological father.
How an Experienced Los Angeles Paternity Lawyer Can Help
Once paternity is established, the father will have a legal obligation to provide for the child in the form of child support payments, which typically last until the child is 19, or longer if the child’s circumstances call for continued support. There are several different ways in which you can defend yourself against a paternity action if you have reason to believe you are not the child’s father. For example, if you were married and living with your wife at the time of the child’s conception, and you can provide evidence that you were sterile or impotent at that time, the paternity action will be defeated, and you will not be required to pay child support. You can also request genetic testing to disprove paternity, though this request will only be approved by the court if it is made within two years of the child’s birth. These are the types of things an experienced Los Angeles paternity lawyer is intimately familiar with, and it is this extensive knowledge of paternity protocol and the complexities of the California legal system that makes a skilled paternity attorney a vital asset to your case.
Free Paternity Consultation in Los Angeles
Determining paternity is an important aspect of many different Los Angeles family law cases, including those involving child support and child custody and visitation disputes, and these are often delicate situations for everyone involved. Paternity actions can be complicated, and the expertise of a reputable Los Angeles paternity attorney can be invaluable to the integrity of your case. If you are a mother requesting child support payments from your child’s father, or if you are a man seeking parental custody or visitation rights, contact our knowledgeable attorneys at Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles today at (213) 550-4600. Our legal team has extensive experience handling paternity cases in Los Angeles, and we can guide you through the process of establishing or challenging paternity, ensuring that you are aware of your rights under California law.