Paternity Law


In cases where the parties are not married but have a child together, paternity must be established before making orders for custody. In California there are several ways to determine who is a parent, and orders for paternity are not always established based on biology.

When parties are married, there is a conclusive presumption that the husband is the natural father of that child. Even in cases where the wife has an affair, only the wife or the husband can challenge the paternity of the child. The lover would not have standing to bring an action for paternity.. There is a time limit of challenging this presumption and an action must be brought by one of the spouses before the child reaches the age of two.

A voluntary declaration of paternity signed at the birth of the child is equal to a Judgment of Paternity and establishes paternity without litigating the matter. By signing the voluntary declaration of paternity, each parent is acknowledging that they are the parent of the child.



In cases of same-sex couples, when the parents have raised the child as their own and have taken them into their home at the time of birth, each parent can be a presumed parent of that child. Prior to the year 2005, the courts did not provide same sex couples with the same rights as opposite sex couples or married persons, however, now California makes rulings that allow the child to continue to have the parents that they have known since their birth.

There have been some rulings in the past several years which will allow for a child to have three natural parents, the biological parents and the parents that have been established through one of the other presumptions of parentage.



Where there is a dispute as to whether someone is the father of a child, the courts may order genetic testing to determine whether they are in fact the parent. Through the use of DNA testing, a court may establish that there is a 99.99% chance that the person is the father of that child [leaving open the concept that the parent may have an identical twin]. Once a genetic test has been ordered the parties will be given a specific amount of time to comply with that order. If a parent does not cooperate with the testing the court will make orders based on the assertions made by the other party.

We have the knowledge and experience to assist our clients in obtaining a Judgment for Paternity and can establish orders for custody, visitation and support through the process of the paternity filing.