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In California, the law assumes that a married couple is the legal mother and father of a newborn. A man not married to his child’s mother at the time of birth may need a court order establishing parentage. Dianne Drew Butler & Associates, Inc often represents clients in a paternity action.

According to the Judicial Council of California, a child born to unmarried parents does not have a legal father.  Voluntarily completing a Declaration of Paternity and filing the form with Child Support Services Paternity Opportunity Program establishes you as the dad, as long as the mother signs the document as well.

If your child’s mother refutes you are the biological father, genetic testing is a possible option for establishing parentage. The Department of Child Support Services performs the only court-accepted DNA tests.

After establishing parentage, you have the same rights and responsibilities of any dad. You may request parenting time or custody orders from the court to legally spend time with your son or daughter once the legal paperwork is complete. Half of the child-care and health costs, as well as child support, also become your responsibility.

A child benefits from knowing both parents. He or she also receives the same privileges and benefits as children with married parents:

  • Access to family history and medical records
  • Rights to inherit property
  • Health and life insurance
  • Veteran’s and social security benefits, if applicable
  • Financial support
  • Mom and dad’s name on the birth certificate

When one parent denies the other’s parentage, the case may require the court’s intervention. Visit our webpage for more information on this topic.