Many children are born to couples who are not married or Domestic Partners. Parties wishing to establish parentage of their children have several avenues under California law.
Q: What can I do if I am not married and want to establish myself as the parent?
A: One way of establishing parentage is by signing a voluntary declaration of paternity at the time the child is born. The signing of this document will be witnessed by the hospital staff who will forward the declaration to the Department of Child Support Services. This has the same effect as a court Judgment for Paternity. Another way to establish a parental relationship is by filing a Petition to Determine Parentage with the court. The court will examine the circumstances of each case as well as the results of genetic testing.
Q: If I have not seen my child or paid child support, do I still have parental rights?
A: Yes. The failure to see a child or pay child support does not alone affect a parties’ parental rights or obligations. If a parent has not seen their child or paid support for a significant amount of time, the Juvenile Court may begin proceedings to terminate parental rights. Parental rights will not be terminated unless the party has been given notice and an opportunity to be heard.