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As a California father, you play a vital role in the life of your child. However, there could be a roadblock to your rights as a parent and access to your kids if the law does not recognize you as the father. Whether you wish to establish your role as a dad or you wish to formalize a verbal or informal agreement already in place with the child’s mother, you have no time to lose in the protection of your interests.

Legally establishing your place as the father begins by establishing paternity. This could be necessary if you were not married to the mother at the time of the birth, if she claims you are not the father or if there are other complicating factors present. As you seek to protect your parental rights, you will find great benefit in seeking legal guidance as you do so.

What’s so important about paternity?

In addition to having regular access to your kids, there are many reasons why it is beneficial to legally establish paternity — for you, your kids and even the mother of your children. If you are the legally recognized biological father of a child, the following things can happen:

  • This will allow you to have visitation with your child, and you may have the option to seek custody rights as well.
  • It will provide financial security for your child as it will now obligate you to pay child support, if you are not already doing so.
  • You may then seek to have a say in the important matters in the life of your child, including educational preferences and religious upbringing.

Establishing paternity could be as simple as completing paperwork, as long as the mother is willing to do so. If she is uncooperative or disputes your claim to parental rights, you may have to pursue a paternity action. At some point, a DNA test may be necessary.

Your role as a father is at stake

When seeking paternity, your role and rights as a father are at stake. An informal agreement with the mother is not enough to protect your interests. You should protect yourself, and therefore your children, by following the appropriate legal steps to establish paternity.

Children are more likely to thrive and succeed when they have regular access to both parents. You can do what is best for your kids, as well as ensure that you have visitation time, by learning more about what seeking paternity means. It can be beneficial to start with a complete explanation of your rights and legal options.