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Paternity

This action is filed by an unmarried mother or by an unmarried father who have minor children together, because in California, there is no presumption in the law that a man is the father of a child unless the couple is married. As a result, a father cannot establish legal rights to the child and the mother cannot seek support for the child until this action is filed and litigated. Through this action, the court will determine paternity (or non-paternity if the father is found not to be the biological father of the minor children), and make custody and visitation as well as child support orders.

Ways to Establish Parentage/Paternity:

  • By Acknowledgment: The mother and father can fill out and sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity form shortly after the birth of the child. This places the father’s name on the birth certificate; however, if this is the method the parties seek to establish paternity, a separate action will still need to be filed if the mother is seeking support or the father is seeking custody.
  • By Agreement/Stipulation: In a Stipulation or Agreement, both parties can agree to parentage and also outline an agreement for child support and custody/visitation rights. A parentage action still must be filed, but it will usually result in a faster judgment if both parties sign an agreement.
  • By Court Order: If one of the parties does not agree with the other as to the parentage of the child, then a Parentage Action can be filed and a Court hearing can be set to ask for a paternity test to be completed. Once the results of that test are entered into the Court record, the Judge can then make orders as to custody/visitation and support or dismiss the case.

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