What is Parentage in California?
Parentage is a legal term that the courts use to determine who is responsible for supporting a child. You don’t have to be a biological parent to be legally responsible for the child – in fact, the courts can establish parentage for adoptive parents, same-sex couples and others who have agreed to take legal responsibility for a minor child.
Why Do You Need to Establish Parentage?
If your child was born when you were not married, you typically must establish parentage to work out custody and visitation, as well as child support. After the courts establish parentage, the legal parents are officially responsible.
Ways to Establish Parentage in California
You can establish parentage in several ways at any time during the child’s life. One of the most common is by signing a Declaration of Paternity. You can sign this voluntary declaration and file it with the California Department of Child Support Services; once that’s done, you’re the child’s legal father (and you don’t need a court order to establish parentage if you’ve already filed a Declaration of Paternity).
Other ways to establish parentage include:
- Providing proof of giving birth to the child
- Providing a court order of adoption
- Asking a local child support agency to bring an action to establish parentage
- Asking the court to issue an order
- Establishing biological paternity through a DNA test
What is Presumed Parentage?
In many cases, you don’t have to establish parentage – the court just presumes (makes an assumption) that the two people involved are the child’s parents.
The court presumes parentage if:
- The parents are married when the child is born
- The child is born within 300 days after the end of a marriage
- The child is born during an “attempted” marriage that looked legal but wasn’t (or the child is born within 300 days of the attempted marriage)
- There was a marriage or attempted marriage after the child’s birth
- The child is welcome in the home and is held out to be the natural child of the presumed parent
Can You Change Parentage?
It’s tough to change parentage – even if you have biological proof that the presumed parent isn’t actually the child’s parent. If you have established parentage by signing a Declaration of Paternity, you have two years to challenge it in court; you must prove either that you signed it under duress or fraud, or that you are not the biological parent of the child by using a DNA test.
Do You Need to Talk to a Stockton Family Law Attorney About Parentage?
Call us at 209-910-9865 to talk about your situation. We’ll give you the case-specific advice you need right now.