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Establishing paternity for unmarried fathers in California

More couples than ever before are choosing to co-habitate and even have children without actually getting married. There are many reasons why people have started to shift their relationships in this way. Children from divorced homes grow up more skeptical about the institution of marriage. Other people may simply feel like it is unlikely for them to stay with the same person for their entire life.

If you have children with someone and you are not married, regardless of the reason why, when you split up you will have to think about how to secure your rights with the children. In the state of California, unmarried fathers have the right to establish paternity.

Ideally, you get listed on the birth certificate as the father

Typically, for married women, the child's father is simply her husband. Regardless of genetics, unless there is a test or an issue, the husband of the mother will usually be the father of the child.

For unmarried women, there is more flexibility. The mother could choose not to name a father on the birth certificate. From a father's point of view, the best case scenario involves getting named on the birth certificate at the hospital. That is the simplest and earliest way to establish paternity.

You and the mother can execute a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity

If you weren't involved in the pregnancy and birth of the child, or if the mother chose not to name you on the birth certificate, that doesn't mean you have to go to court. Provided that she agrees that you are the father and is willing to acknowledge this, both you and the mother can sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity form.

This document serves to inform the state of California that both the mother and you believe you to be the father of the child. Usually, you can use this form to have your name added to the birth certificate.

If the mother won't admit you are the father, you may have to go to court

There are a number of situations in which the mother of your child may choose not to agree to acknowledge you as the father. Perhaps you had a rocky relationship, and she now wants to move on with her life. Maybe there are issues with her family, or she could have even been married at the time of her pregnancy.

Regardless of the scenario, if the mother refuses to acknowledge you as the father of the child, you will need to ask the courts to stop in. Generally speaking, you have the right to request a hearing and ask the courts to order a genetic test. Provided you can supply the courts with adequate information that indicates you may be the father, they will order a DNA test.

These tests are relatively conclusive and have a very small margin of an accuracy. Thankfully, the courts can compel the mother to present the child for testing even if she is hesitant to name you as the father. Once genetic testing confirms that you are the father of the child, you will be able to move forward with establishing your parental rights, such as visitation.

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Mohajer Law Firm, APC

Mohajer Law Firm, APC
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