Paternity And Parental Rights

Many children are born to couples who are not married. Parties wishing to establish parentage of their children have several avenues under California law. Determining parentage is necessary for parents to establish legal rights, custody rights and visitation rights and child support.

To obtain court orders to establish or enforce any of these, parents must have a judgment of paternity. There are two ways to establish paternity or parentage: have the father voluntarily sign a declaration of paternity/parentage when the child is born or obtain a court order.

Declaration Of Paternity Or Parentage

For married couples, when a child is born during the union, family law presumes that both individuals have parental rights. In the case of nonmarried couples, a voluntary declaration of parentage can be signed and witnessed and entered into a state database.

Going To Court To Establish Paternity

Either parent can initiate a case to establish parentage. The first step is to file a petition to establish parental relations. This petition can include other requests such as custody, visitation and support. After the petition is filed with the court, it is served on the other parent. That parent has 30 days to respond. That parent can admit to being the child's parent and agree to any other requests or can deny being the child's parent and disagree with any other requests. If there is an agreement, the parents can put that agreement in writing and submit it to the court without having to appear before a judge. If the parents cannot agree, a hearing will be scheduled. The court will examine the circumstances of each case as well as possibly the results of genetic testing.

Experienced Representation In Parental Rights Cases

At Viola Law Firm, we help clients with a wide range of complex issues that concern paternity and parental rights, including cases involving child support orders and custody and visitation agreements. To discuss your situation with an experienced attorney, contact us online or call 650-532-9389. Our lawyers serve clients in San Mateo County and throughout northern California.

Parental Rights Q&A

What can I do if I am not married and want to establish myself as the parent?
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 a state database. This has the same effect as a court judgment for paternity. Another way to establish a parental relationship is by filing a petition to establish parental relations with the court.

If I have not seen my child or paid child support, do I still have parental rights?
In most cases, yes. The failure to see a child or pay child support does not alone generally affect a party's parental rights.