Parents file paternity actions in cases in which they were never married, but they have one or more children together. Parents will file what is commonly called a “paternity case” to obtain orders relating to custody, visitation, child support, name change, determination of paternity, and other related issues. The mother or father has the ability to file a paternity action. The non-custodial parent will normally not be able to obtain custody and visitation rights until paternity has been established.

Paternity Testing / DNA Testing

Paternity may be established either by agreement of both parents, or through DNA testing. California law provides for certain presumptions regarding paternity dependent upon various factors or circumstances. For example, a father who has accepted a minor child into his home, and holds out the child as his child, may be determined to be the legal father of the child even if he is not the biological father of the child. The presumption of paternity arises when a father signs a Declaration of Paternity which establishes paternity in the same manner as if the Court had issued a Judgment of Paternity. A father may be conclusively presumed to be a father of a child born while he and his spouse are living together in a marriage, unless paternity tests are completed within two years. It is very important that you discuss with your experienced family law attorney the complexities relating to presumptions relating to paternity.

Most paternity cases are resolved by agreement. The parties are able to submit the required pleadings to the Court to obtain a Judgment of Paternity without having any court hearings. This process minimizes attorney fees and costs, and promotes an amicable parenting relationship between the parents.