A paternity action is when a party seeks to establish the identity of the biological father to a child and associated custody and support orders. It may be brought by the child's mother in order to obtain child support to help her meet the costs associated with caring for her child. A paternity action may also be brought by the biological father, usually in order to obtain legal custody (the right to participate in significant decisions on behalf the child), physical custody (the right to organize and administer the day to day residential care of a child), or at least the right to visit with the child.
The establishment of paternity is also very important to a child. The child not only benefits emotionally from knowing the identity of his or her father, but he or she will also benefit from legal and economic rights, such as child support and inheritance.
We take the time to carefully explain the legal issues involved in a paternity action. The task of establishing paternity has become easier today, but the laws remain complex.
How Paternity Is Established
Paternity is increasingly easier to establish due the advancement of technology via DNA testing. This can be done quickly and painlessly through DNA comparison of a swab sample of the cells from inside the father's and child's cheeks. A blood test can also be used to prove paternity.
Additional evidence can also be introduced to help establish paternity, such as:
- Testimony about sexual relations between the parties.
- Evidence of an intimate relationship between the parties during pregnancy.
- The designation of the father on the birth certificate.
- Reference by the alleged father in postcards, etc. to the child as the child's "daddy."
- The provision of gifts by the alleged father to the child.
In some instances under California law, a non-biological parent, or an individual of the same sex, may be legally declared to be the child's parent with responsibility for child support. Furthermore, in some instances a grandparent or other person who has been caring for a child as their own, in a guardianship action, may be granted custody and/or visitation rights. We represent all parties involved in paternity actions.