Parentage / Paternity


Parentage / Paternity

Most fathers don’t realize that if they were not married to the mother of their child, they have no legal rights as a parent. If the father would like to gain non-custodial rights to be a part of the child’s life, he must prove that he is the biological father. Paternity for the unmarried father can only be proven through DNA testing or demonstrated through the existence of a Paternity Affidavit.  Only after paternity has been established may the father seek custody rights in the form of a Parenting Plan or Visitation Schedule just like the father would have if the couple had been married.

With the advent of DNA paternity testing, a court can now establish parentage in a relatively quick and easy procedure. The father can either submit to a paternity test (usually administered by swabbing the inside of the mouth with a saliva swab), or a court order can be obtained to compel the ostensible father to take the test. Today’s DNA test results are accurate and nearly indisputable proof of parentage. They are deemed to be more reliable than the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) tests that were used previously. The results of these tests could be rebutted by the presumptive father proving he was out of the state when the child was conceived, was impotent or was sterile.  It is also common that paternity can be presumed by the existence of a Paternity Affidavit often presented to the father at the hospital at the time of the child’s birth

A married man is the legally presumed father when a child is conceived during the marriage even if he may not be the biological father of the child. This presumption may be rebutted by DNA testing, however most courts require that an attempt to disprove paternity be initiated within a reasonable period of time after the birth of the child.

Why is paternity of a child so important that it has its own San Diego Family Law area? When a couple is married, is presumed the husband is the father of the children. This is not necessarily the case. Women are not required to name the father on the birth certificate. If the proposed father resists and claims he is not the father of the child, and can prove so through a DNA test, he will no longer be required to provide financial support to that child. On the other hand, if a couple was not married but the man believes he is the father, and the mother decides to put the child up for adoption, proving paternity will enable him to block the adoption and attempt to get custody.

Proving paternity can also be important in cases where an inheritance is involved. It also provides the child the right to access certain personal information about their biologic father in cases where health risks or profiles are needed from the paternal family. Knowing paternal parentage can also help a child to receive worker’s compensation benefits should the father die while on the job or obtain other governmental assistance allowed for dependents.

Finally, there are other ways to be a presumed father under the California Family Code.  These are important whether or not you are the father, or the mother, of the child.  If parentage is an issue in your case, you need an experienced San Diego Family Law attorney to assist you.  Contact our office today.