Child Custody In Paternity Cases: What You Need to Know

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

child custody mediation attorneys Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsAs a Californian, you’re probably aware of the fact that our state is quite progressive. As a result, progressive policies are bound to affect every area of a Californian’s life and that includes family law.  In this blog, we are dealing with a very specific topic under family law – parentage.

California uses the term “parentage” interchangeably with terms such as “parental relationship” and “paternity”. Typically, paternity is established by the child’s parents or the courts. What that means is if a child is born in a marriage, the mother’s husband is automatically presumed to be the father under the law.

If a couple have had a child together but are not married, the law does not automatically assume that the father is the biological parent of the child, which may require a genetic DNA test to establish as well as a Declaration of Paternity signed by the father to establish parentage and then custody.

Establishing paternity 

To establish parentage or paternity, a court order must be obtained or a Declaration of Paternity must be signed to legally indicate who the child’s parents are. For instance, if a child is born out of wedlock, he/she is considered to not have a father unless parentage is legally established. This applies even when the father has evidence to show that he is the biological father.

The establishing of parentage is extremely important as it has a major impact on matters such as child support, visitation rights, and custody during divorce procedures.

If an individual refuses to establish paternity, the court will order them to undergo genetic testing.

Once parentage is established, the concerned man/woman will have to take up the role of a parent. He/she will have to pay child support, 50% of child care costs, and uninsured health care expenses. The same goes for individuals who are legally established as parents.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

Custody In Paternity Cases Can Be Mediated

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediators; California Divorce MediatorsIn parentage or paternity cases, a determination of to who the legal parents of the child is necessary are where the parents were not married to each other. Paternity needs to be determined legally in cases where the parents are not married.  Same-sex parents need to take legal advice regarding parentage because parenting laws have not been stated too clearly for people from the LGBT community.

For unmarried or same-sex parents, legal parentage of their child needs to be declared. It is only then that the court will decide on child support, child custody and visitation rights. Once a person has legal parentage, he or she will not have any problems in requesting for custody or other rights related to the child.

Unmarried parents, in case of a separation, will also be responsible to pay child support and half of uninsured healthcare costs if the other parent wins child custody. Failure to provide financial support for your child, when directed by the court, will be considered a criminal offense.

Establishing parentage

The state of California has laws where there are two ways of establishing parentage when the parents of the child are unmarried.

  • By signing a voluntary Declaration of Paternity – It is a form approved by the California government that, when signed voluntarily by both parents, declares them to be the legal parents of the child. The Declaration, once signed, it has to be filed with the  Paternity Opportunity Program (POP) in the California Department of Child Support Services for it to be effective.
  • By getting a court order – It is very similar to the ‘Declaration of Paternity’ but for this you need to go to the court and follow all the legal procedures. It also officially establishes and legalizes the paternity of the unmarried parents to their child.

Reasons for establishing parentage

A legally established parentage allows the child to enjoy the same rights and privileges as the children of married parents. These include financial as well as social benefits.

  • Financial support from parents
  • Health and life insurance coverage
  • Legal documentation identifying both parents
  • A valid birth certificate with names of both legal parents
  • Right to inherit from both parents
  • Right to receive social security

To learn more about establishing custody in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation