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How is parentage established in California?

There is perhaps no occasion more joyous than the birth of a new child. In fact, most new parents will probably reach a point where they feel almost overwhelmed by all of the visits, gifts and undivided attention from their family and friends.

Once all of the is excitement begins to subside, however, there will be some very important issues which these new parents will need to address, including some that may be legal in nature. This is especially true if the parents are unmarried, as it will be necessary to establish paternity, or as it is referred to in California, parentage.

Who would be required to establish parentage?

When a child is born to married parents, parentage is automatically established in the majority of cases, as the law presumes the husband to be the father and the wife to be the mother.

When a couple is unmarried, however, no assumptions are made as to parentage, such that parentage will need to be legally established (most often by the father).

What benefits are missed if parentage is not established?

Until such time as parentage is established, a biological father will not have any legal rights or responsibilities. This means that he will be unable to request custody or visitation from a court, and otherwise be a part of the child's life. It also means that a biological mother will be unable to request child support payments and payment for other expenses associated with raising the child (uninsured health care costs, child-care costs if the she works/goes back to school, etc.)    

What benefits are derived once parentage is established?

Once parentage is established, such that a child has two legal parents, a court can order everything from child custody and visitation to child support and other financial assistance.

We'll continue discussing this topic in a future post, including the benefits that a child derives from establishing parentage and the process by which it can be established.

In the meantime, if you have questions about this topic or another family law issue, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible. 

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