Establishing paternity, or the identity of the biological father of the child, is important for several reasons. Establishing paternity will give the father certain legal obligations, such as to pay child support. It will also grant parental rights, such as spending time with the child and making important decisions for the child. You may need to challenge paternity if someone is trying to gain a legal right to your child. You may also wish to challenge paternity if you do not believe you should be responsible for a child.
How the Law Establishes Paternity
In California, paternity is a branch of family law that establishes a legal relationship between a father and a child. First, understand the requirements for establishing paternity in California. If your situation does not meet these requirements, it is possible that paternity does not legally exist. In this case, the alleged father would have no rights or responsibilities over the child in question, even without a paternity test.
The law will grant a man assumed paternity if he is married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth. An unmarried couple, however, will need to establish paternity through another mean, such as signing the birth certificate or another document acknowledging the establishment of paternity. If the unmarried father does not wish to establish paternity, the mother may still request a court order to force the man to take a paternity test.
Upon establishing paternity, either through the presumption of paternity or through legal means, the father will have certain legal rights and obligations for the care and upbringing of the child. The established father will have custody, visitation and decision-making rights, for example, unless a family court rules otherwise for the safety or wellbeing of the child. The father will also have a responsibility to care for the child. This legal obligation could include paying child support.
Grounds for Challenging Paternity in California
If you wish to challenge paternity, you can do so in a few different ways. First, you can contest alleged paternity by arguing against the presumption of the identity of the father. If you were not legally married to the other parent at the time of the child’s birth, for example, you could challenge presumed paternity. Most challenges, however, will require taking a paternity (DNA) test.
A paternity test is an admissible method to establish or contest paternity in the California courts. Paternity tests are genetic tests with 99.9% accuracy. They use the alleged father’s DNA and the child’s DNA to determine whether they are genetically related. In most cases, it is the presumed father that orders a DNA test to prove he is not the biological father of the child, usually to avoid have a legal obligation for the child. A mother could also order a DNA test, however, if she does not wish someone to have any legal rights over her child.
Another party that may order a paternity test is someone alleging to be the biological father of a child. The government may also file a paternity suit and require DNA testing in some situations. In California, someone must bring a paternity suit in a specific amount of time after the birth of the child to fulfill the statute of limitations. The alleged father will then have the right to contest the paternity suit. The alleged father must submit a DNA sample to contest paternity.
If the paternity test establishes that the man is not the father, he will lose all legal rights and obligations for the child. If the man wishes to then establish paternity even if he is not the child’s biological father, he will need to sign the proper documents to do so. If the test establishes the man is the child’s biological father, he will receive all rights and responsibilities that go along with established paternity. A person cannot contest paternity again after a DNA test has already established a biologic relationship. A paternity lawyer can help couples or individuals with these types of lawsuits.