When DNA testing first became commonplace, it changed the way families functioned forever. However, the existence of DNA tests hasn’t erased the many complicated factors that go into navigating paternity law.
If you haven’t established paternity, or are in a difficult situation involving paternity, you’ll need to know certain things about paternity law. This knowledge will help you navigate challenges from child support to custody and more.
Ready to learn the essentials of paternity law in your state? Keep reading to learn the details that will help you through your situation.
California Paternity Law: The Basics
Paternity law is a broad term governing the legalities between fathers and children.
The simplest paternity cases are when the couple who has a child is already married. Then, under California paternity law, the husband is the assumed father of the child. This law also applies if the marriage happened during the pregnancy.
However, things get more complicated when a couple that’s not married has a child.
If you father a child with a partner you’re not married to, you’ll have the option of signing a document called the “Acknowledgement of Paternity” to confirm that you’re the father. You can also choose not to sign that document, but in that case, the mother might get the courts involved to hold you responsible for your biological child.
Other times, it may be unclear who is the father of a child. That’s when you might need to establish paternity.
Why Establish Paternity?
What are the benefits of establishing paternity in California? Let’s take a look.
When you know who the real father of a child is, you can access their valuable medical history. This knowledge can help the child know about and prepare for possible genetic problems that might come from their father’s side.
The biological father often has an easier time accessing the right to parent and raise their child. Both child and father can value this opportunity to be involved in each other’s lives.
Legal and financial reasons
A child who has a known father might also benefit legally and financially from this knowledge. For example, their father might pay child support or serve as a guardian. Some parents don’t want to be legally or financially responsible for a child that’s not theirs biologically.
Establishing Paternity In California
Need to establish paternity in California?
The only surefire way to establish paternity is to take a genetic test. You have a few different options for paternity testing — here are some of the most common ones.
If you want to establish paternity before a child is born, you can use a pre-natal test once the mother is at least eight weeks into the pregnancy.
You’ll want to opt for the Non-Invasive Prenatal Paternity test, which is safer than other prenatal test options. A blood sample from the mother will establish paternity. This works because she is sharing blood with the baby during the pregnancy.
Doctors will isolate the fetus’s DNA to see the paternity of the child.
You can also test paternity through the blood after a child is born.
Blood tests aren’t perfectly accurate, but they have high enough rates of accuracy to be useful.
With this test, the blood type will show who’s the likely father of the child. Genes play a role in determining the blood type, so blood type can be a fairly clear indicator of fatherhood.
Sometimes, a second test is requested to confirm the results of the first one. When both tests show the same thing, the finding is considered accurate.
The newer and more accurate DNA testing provides an even better method for genetic testing.
DNA testing involves samples of tissue or blood. DNA is completely unique, so this test can’t be wrong, unlike blood tests which can only determine a likelihood of paternity.
However, it’s still common to do at least two DNA tests to confirm findings. To take the tissue sample most DNA tests use a cheek swab. As with a blood test, samples will be taken from the mother, father, and child.
Handling Unusual Paternity Law Situations
Sometimes, you’ll find yourself in a unique and complicated paternity law situation. Here are some of the more common unusual situations and what to do in each one.
If the child was born while the couple was married, the husband is the legal father. However, keep in mind that legal father doesn’t mean biological father.
Sometimes, a divorce can cause the legal father to start questioning his paternity. Other times, the divorce might happen as a result of that questioning.
The divorce won’t affect the legal father’s rights as a parent. However, a genetic test that shows someone else is the biological father can change all of that.
The legal father, even if he’s not he biological father, can still be granted custody rights and required to pay child support — even if he doesn’t want to. Courts try to act in a child’s best interest, regardless of who turns out to be the biological father.
Having a baby with another man while married
What if the couple stays married, but the husband isn’t the biological father of the child?
These cases are never simple, and many different factors can affect the outcome. If the husband decides to fight for the right to keep the child, he might be able to maintain paternal rights even though he’s not a biological parent. However, the husband might decide to not fight for custody or other rights to the child that’s not his own.
In these and any other paternity cases, you can help ensure the outcome you want by hiring a paternity lawyer.
Need A Paternity Lawyer?
Navigating paternity law by yourself can become nearly impossible, especially if you find yourself in one of the more complicated situations listed here.
Even DNA testing won’t always clear up all the issues. You need a paternity lawyer on your side.
Our team can help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.