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It is not uncommon for unmarried couples in California to have children. While this situation works well for many parents, it can be difficult for some fathers to get time with their children. Establishing paternity is often the first step toward getting a child custody agreement that reflects the child’s best interests, which usually involves having access to both of their parents.

You can get formally establish paternity in one of two ways. The first is for the father to acknowledge a child as his own and to sign a declaration of paternity at the time of birth. A witness must be present at the time that the declaration is signed, and afterwards it has to be put into the state’s database.

The second way to establish paternity is through a court order. This step can be initiated by either the father or the mother and involves petitioning the court to establish paternity. These petitions often include other requests, including things like visitation, child support and even custody rights. The parent who did not file will be served with the petition after it is filed, and is given 30 days to respond. Parents can either agree to the petition or go before a family court judge to have the matter settled.

For fathers who want regular access to their children, establishing paternity is essential. Without paternity you cannot prevent your child’s mother from moving away or even maintain regular visits. With so much on the line, it might be best to not leave things up to chance. More information about establishing paternity in California and other important child custody matters is readily available on our website.