Many families in San Diego are made up of married parents and their biological children, but not all families begin in this way, and there are times when it becomes necessary to legally establish the identity of a child’s father for the benefit of the father, the mother or the child. This may be the case if a father who was not married at the time of his child’s birth wishes to prove paternity in order to protect his child custody and visitation rights during a divorce, or if an unmarried mother wants to establish paternity so she can enforce a court order for the father to make child support payments. Unless the parents of a child in San Diego are legally married or registered domestic partners at the time of their child’s birth, parentage is never assumed by the court. Instead, it must be established legally through a San Diego paternity action, which requires immediate intervention by a knowledgeable San Diego family law attorney.
Table of Contents San Diego Paternity Lawyer
Our San Diego paternity lawyers at (619) Divorce have a proven history of success helping fathers get favorable outcomes in their paternity cases, and we have a clear understanding of San Diego divorce and paternity law and how it applies to your case. Attorney Steve Smith and our team of San Diego attorneys are experienced in all areas of family law, divorce and paternity, and we can help you establish your parental rights by opening or responding to a paternity case in court. We can also offer skilled and knowledgeable legal guidance with regard to other family issues that may be relevant to your case, including child custody, child support and visitation rights. Our attorneys at (619) Divorce recognize the fact that today’s fluid definition of a family presents unique challenges to unmarried couples, single mothers and same-sex partners, and we will fight to protect your legal rights in your paternity case, as well as the rights of your child.
San Diego Paternity Law
Paternity is a legal term concerning the identity of a child’s father, an issue that may arise in cases involving San Diego child custody disputes, divorce, child support, adoption and inheritance, among other legal matters affecting the family. When a couple in San Diego is married and a child is conceived during the marriage, the law usually recognizes the husband to be the child’s legal father, even if he is not the child’s biological father. In the past, when couples traditionally waited until marriage to have a child, establishing paternity in this way may have been sufficient, but today, many unmarried couples, single women and same-sex couples are entering parenthood without the benefit of automatically established parentage, which means parentage must be established by the court. Establishing paternity in San Diego creates a legal relationship between a child and his or her father and gives the father the same legal rights he would have if he and the child’s mother were married at the time the child was born.
California Family Code § 7570
When ruling on any family issue that involves the well-being of a couple’s child, San Diego courts will always consider the best interests of the child. This is the case in child custody and move away and child relocation determinations and it is also the case in paternity disputes, where the child has the potential to benefit from knowing who his or her father is and having the parentage legally established by the court. According to California Family Code § 7570, “There is a compelling state interest in establishing parentage for all children. Establishing parentage is the first step toward a child support award, which, in turn, provides children with equal rights and access to benefits, including, but not limited to, social security, health insurance, survivors’ benefits, military benefits, and inheritance rights.”
Establishing Paternity in San Diego
Most men don’t realize that just because their name is listed on their child’s birth certificate as the father is not sufficient to establish paternity if they were not married to their child’s mother at the time the child was born. Conversely, many fathers in San Diego incorrectly believe that since they were not married to the mother of their child at the time of the child’s birth, they have no legal rights as a parent. While neither of these things is entirely true, the law does state that a father who was not married to the mother of his child at the time the child was born can only seek child custody or visitation rights after paternity has been established by the court. This requires filing a Petition to Establish Parental Relationship, which can be filed by the child’s mother or by the man presumed to be the child’s father. With the availability of DNA paternity testing, establishing parentage in San Diego is a relatively quick and easy process. Once an action to establish paternity is taken to court, either the man presumed to be the child’s father can voluntarily submit to a DNA test to prove or disprove paternity, or the court can order him to submit to the test.
Reasons for Establishing Paternity
In the state of California, the court takes parental rights extremely seriously and when it comes to child custody and visitation disputes, for example, state laws typically favor an agreement that gives both parents an equal opportunity to pursue a relationship with the child. This is the main reason presumed fathers seek to establish paternity in San Diego, to obtain a favorable outcome in a child custody or visitation dispute. In fact, for unmarried fathers, proving parentage to the court is the only way they can gain the legal right to make important decisions about the care and upbringing of their child, including decisions about the child’s health, travel, education and religious upbringing. Once the father’s identity is established, the court can also establish legal or physical custody of the child, child support payments, visitation time with the child, or health insurance for the child, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Establishing Paternity for the Father
Parents in San Diego share equal responsibility in supporting and caring for their children under the law, and a man legally established as a child’s father will be responsible for his share of support and responsibility in raising the child. If during a divorce, the mother of a child claims that her husband is not the child’s legal father, establishing paternity through a DNA test can help the father retain his parental rights. If a child is born to unmarried parents and the mother decides she wants to give the child up for adoption, the father can claim paternity and refuse to give consent. A father claiming legal paternity also gains custody and visitation rights to the child under San Diego law.
Establishing Paternity for the Mother
Not all single mothers have the financial resources to raise a child on their own and by establishing paternity, a mother may be able to compel the child’s father to provide financial support in the form of regular child support payments. However, once paternity is established under the law, the mother may also be required to share custody with the child’s father or allow for visitation time between the child and his or her father.
Establishing Paternity for the Child
There are also many reasons to establish paternity in San Diego for the benefit of the child. In addition to being entitled to financial support from the father, the child also gains the right to inherit from the father and the right to access personal health information for the purpose of identifying paternal medical problems and health risks that may affect the child. The most obvious benefit of establishing a father’s identity is for the child to know who his or her father is and to give the child and father the opportunity to develop a relationship.
How a San Diego Paternity Lawyer Can Help
Many men believe that the legal system is unfairly biased towards mothers, but the truth is that fathers have the same parental rights as mothers do, including the right to pursue a relationship with their child. However, in the case of unmarried parents, a man presumed to be the father of a child in San Diego may be required to take a paternity action to court in order to be legally established as the child’s father and take advantage of these rights. Paternity cases can become extremely complicated and contentious, which is why it is imperative that you seek legal advice from an experienced San Diego family law attorney if your paternity is in question. Not only will we take the necessary steps to establish paternity and reinstate your parental rights (or disprove paternity and refute any claims of your alleged legal obligation to the child), we can also identify potential issues and challenges before they arise and develop a successful strategy for dealing with them in a competent and efficient manner.
Every child in San Diego has the right to know who his or her parents are, and every father has the right to be involved in his child’s life and upbringing, and when your identity as the father of your child is disputed, it can be helpful to have an experienced family law attorney in your corner who can protect your rights and guide you through the legal process of establishing parentage. At (619) Divorce, our attorneys have more than a decade of experience handling San Diego paternity cases and other sensitive family law matters, including cases where the father’s custody rights are at risk during a divorce. We handle all paternity and divorce cases with the discretion and confidentiality our clients deserve, and if you hire our firm, we will do everything in our power to help you get the outcome you are hoping for in your paternity case.
Consult Our San Diego Paternity Lawyers
While some divorce cases in San Diego are handled quickly and smoothly without dispute, others can be complex and contentious, especially when they involve such issues as child custody, child support and paternity. For example, a father in San Diego may seek to establish paternity to protect his child custody and visitation rights in a divorce, or a mother may seek to establish paternity to enforce a court order for child support payments. If you are a father and you are going through a divorce in San Diego, it may become necessary to establish paternity so you can gain the legal right to have custody of your child, or you may wish to disprove paternity if you believe you have no legal obligations to the child. If you are a mother, establishing paternity is the first step in setting forth a father’s legal responsibility to help care for your child, which he may or may not do voluntarily. Whatever the circumstances of your case, it is imperative that you speak with a knowledgeable San Diego paternity lawyer to discuss your legal options and find the best course of action for establishing paternity. Contact our legal team at (619) Divorce today.