If you had a child outside of marriage, you may not legally be considered the child's father. Now the child's mother is refusing to let you spend time with your child. However, you need to establish legal paternity to secure child custody or visitation rights, to provide your child access to key financial support and help make key decisions in their life. Do you know how to establish paternity rights in California?
Two methods to establish paternity rights
To establish paternity rights, you can:
- Sign a Declaration of Paternity with the other parent. However, this document must be signed willingly by both parents. Once signed, it will be filed with the Paternity Opportunity Program (POP) to become official.
- Obtain a court order. It may be necessary to obtain a court order to establish paternity if the other parent is against the process. This may require both parents and the child to submit to court-ordered genetic testing.
There is a chance that you can be the legal father even if you are not the biological father. Known as "parentage by estoppel," legal paternity can be naturally established if a man welcomes a child into his home and serves the role of father throughout the child's upbringing.
Resolving issues of disputed parentage
In some circumstances, the mother may claim that you are not the biological father and try to block your paternity rights. If this happens, you can ask the court for genetic testing to prove parentage. The court must order the genetic testing for it to be valid. They will not accept the results of a privately completed genetic test.
Understanding the ramifications of establishing paternity
Once paternity is established, the other parent can claim child support payments. Both parents have a legal responsibility to financially support their child. However, it also provides the newly established father with a legal claim to either child custody or visitation rights.
Establishing paternity is also very beneficial for your child. He or she will gain the financial support of another parent, access to necessary family medical records, inheritances, the right to certain benefits, access to health insurance and the emotional benefits of knowing both parents.