Paternity is a fancy, legal name for fatherhood. If a child is born to a married couple, the man is legally the father unless a challenge to his paternity is made. However, if a couple is unmarried at the time of birth, the couple should sign a voluntary Declaration of Paternity at the hospital.
A man may have a paternity test done if he is said to have fathered a child or if he believes a child is his. He is also entitled to legal counsel before paternity can be adjudicated.
Establishing Paternity for Child Support
Additionally, in order to secure child support for a child not born of a marriage, a Complaint to Establish Parental Relations must be filed. This is sometimes filed by a woman, but other times it is filed by the state.
Sometimes the state insists on dna tests because they want to establish a father in cases where the mother is on public assistance. The father is ordered to pay money to the state as his contribution to the child’s upbringing. Often this is the first time the father has heard about the presence of a child. I handle many of these cases.
Challenging a Paternity Claim
If the father says the child is not his, DNA tests will be ordered. DNA tests are available a couple of weeks after the samples are taken.
Child support may be ordered during the time it takes to get the DNA test. However, if the man is determined not to be the father, the mother or the state must repay the money.
Someone who is presumed to be the father of a child has up to two years to challenge paternity. If you have a case pending in a Southern California family court, contact me at 877-369-5294 for the best advice on how to move forward.