San Fernando Paternity Lawyer
Establishing and Disestablishing Paternity
The establishment or disestablishment of paternity will greatly impact any family law matter. If you are a father seeking custody of your child or are a mother attempting to prove that the person seeking custody is or is not your child’s legal father, contacting a San Fernando family attorney at Cutter & Lax can help you address this situation. It is our goal to help you obtain a definitive answer regarding your paternity case. An objective and rational standpoint allows us to approach your case with the right attitude and therefore have a better chance at a swifter, more successful outcome. Court procedures in establishing or disestablishing paternity can be highly complex, and the right attorney can assist in navigating through this difficult situation.
Information Regarding Paternity Testing in California
According to The Judicial Branch of California, any case where the court is making legal orders about the identity of a child's parents is referred to as a parentage or paternity test. If parents are married when a child is born, parentage is normally not even a question; however, things are not always that simple. When a child is born with unmarried parents or if there is a question of fidelity, many questions may arise. Establishing parentage means more than just bring peace of mind; it means help for determining important legal issues such as custody, visitation rights, and even child support. It also means that the child will have access to his or her family's medical records and history, access to health and life insurance coverage, and more.
There are three ways that you can establish parentage of a child:
- Voluntary Declaration of Paternity: In these cases, unmarried couples would sign a Declaration of Paternity, which would make them the legal parents of the child. In most cases, this is signed at the hospital at the time of the parent's birth, but not always—in some cases, it can be signed later. The form can be received at the local child support agency, registrar of births, family law facilitator or the welfare offices. It must be signed at one of these public agencies and witnessed by a notary public. After it has been signed, it is sent to the California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) with the Paternity Opportunity Program (POP), and has the same effect as a legal court order.
- Local Child Support Agency (LCSA): In some cases, you can go to a local child support agency and ask for their assistance in establishing parentage. These are part of the DCSS, with one located in every county. The process begins simply; you call your county's LCSA to schedule an appointment about parentage and support, this can be done even if the mother is still pregnant. Next, a genetic test will be ordered (only after the child is born). The services of LCSA can be requested by either parent; however, the LCSA is not a lawyer and does not represent the parents or children.
- Go to Court: If necessary, you may need to take your paternity case to court to establish parentage. These are complex, and it is usually best advised to handle these with the help of an experienced family law attorney. To start, you would need to file your parentage case in the county where either your child permanently lives or can be found. In some cases, that may be in the court you live.
If you are looking to establish parentage, and you believe that filing a case with the court is your best option, we encourage you to contact an attorney from our firm. With more than 30 years of experience, we have handled these cases before and we know the steps to take. Call us today if you have any more questions.
Work with a Lawyer Who Is Board Certified in Family Law
Paternity is a term used to define the state or condition of being a father. Paternity more frequently comes into question with unmarried couples who have a child together, but these matters may also arise in married couples in the event of a divorce or legal separation. In any event, by filing a Petition to Establish Paternity either a mother or father can begin the legal action of establishing legal paternity for their child. Issues involving paternity may be resolved in or out of the courtroom. Either way, having a competent family lawyer at your side can go a long way in ensuring that your rights and interests are protected in these legal actions.