In California, children born to married couples or registered domestic partners are assumed to be the children of both parents. This is true regardless of the genders of the parents. However, assigning parentage can become more complex if parents are unmarried, same-sex, or the identity of a child’s other parent is in question. In this case, it may be necessary to legally establish parentage, also known as paternity. In some cases, the law may also determine that a child has more than two legal parents.

Consulting with an experienced family law attorney is invaluable when parentage is a concern. A knowledgeable lawyer will help you understand California’s complex laws regarding the establishment of parentage and advocate for your rights. Establishing parentage is necessary before custody, visitation, or child support will be ordered by a court. You can learn more about the benefits of working with an attorney to establish parentage by calling 650-482-8480 or emailing Madigan & Lewis, LLP

Establishing Parentage in California

California offers several ways that the parentage of a child may be established. If a couple is not married, the two most common alternatives are:

  • Voluntary declaration of parentage: If two parents agree, they may voluntarily acknowledge the parentage of a child. They will sign a form stating that they both recognize that they share legal rights and responsibilities as parents of the child and submit it to the state. Hospitals and child service agencies can assist with voluntary acknowledgment in the form of a Voluntary Declaration of Parentage or VDOP.
  • Legal action: If either parent refuses to acknowledge their own or the other person’s parentage of a child, legal action may be necessary. In these cases, the party seeking acknowledgment will file a parentage suit. This often leads to DNA tests being ordered on both the child and the potential parent to determine if they are biologically related. 

Once a parent is established as the father or mother of a child, he or she will have all the rights and responsibilities of a parent. He or she will be able to request custody and visitation orders from the court so that he or she can spend time with his or her child. He or she will also be responsible for financially supporting his or her child and may be required to pay child support or half of any uninsured health-care costs or child-care costs. In addition, the child will have the right to inherit and potentially receive benefits such as health insurance coverage or Social Security payments from both legal parents. 

Discuss Your Parentage Case With Madigan & Lewis, LLP

It may not take a village to raise a child, but there is no doubt that more support is better. Establishing parentage allows both parents to play a role in their children’s lives and can provide their children with a stronger support network. We have years of experience assisting families with various family law concerns, so we understand the complexities involved in parentage cases. We are dedicated to acting as strong advocates for children and families, ensuring their rights and best interests are protected. You can learn more about how we can assist in your parentage case by scheduling your consultation today.