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Being a mother doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a stable family life, nor an income to support your child. Fortunately laws in the State of California provide some support to get you moving in the right direction. Establishing paternity (the legal acknowledgment of your child’s father) is perhaps the most critical step towards collecting child support and moving you forward in raising your child. But answering the question of fatherhood is not as simple as you may think. Different situations fall under different legal rules. An experienced family law attorney can help you navigate through legalities of each situation.


Paternity: When Agreed On or Presumed

The various legal definitions of Paternity:

Alleged Father – is an unmarried man who impregnates a woman if the court determines or he acknowledges that he’s the father. He would be obligated to pay child support. The alleged father has visitation rights and may also seek custody.

  • Acknowledged Father – is a biological father of a child born to unmarried parents. The paternity is established by either admission of the father or agreement of the parents. An “acknowledged father” must pay child support.

  • Presumed Father – is a man is presumed to be the father of the child if any of the following are true (unless the man or mother prove otherwise in court – and the “presumed father” must pay child support):

  • Stepfather – is the spouse of a legal mother and is not also the biological father of the woman’s children. A stepfather is not obligated to pay child support to the woman he has married unless he agrees to legally adopt the children.

    • The man was married to the mother when the child was conceived or born.

    • The man married the mother after the birth and agreed to have his name on the birth certificate or to support the child.

    • The man attempted to marry the mother and the child was conceived of born during the attempted marriage.

  • Equitable Parent – a spouse is not a legal parent (adoptive or biological) but the spouse and child have a close relationship and consider each other to be a “parent and child” or the biological parent encouraged this close relationship with the spouse.


Paternity Actions

A paternity action is a suit filed in court to have a man declared the father of a child. The suit can be filed by either the father or the mother. If paternity is established between the father and the mother, then the court will order the father to pay child support, and grant him custody or visitation rights.

If parentage has not yet been established, either parent can dispute parentage. The laws of parentage are a bit complicated. The assistance of an experienced family law attorney would help you immensely in your dispute of parentage.

Scottie Leming – Here to Help You

Scottie Leming understands the various nuances of parentage laws and will advise you on how to move through the process to establish or dispute paternity given your current family situation. She will work to protect your legal rights, as well as the rights of your child. Call (951) 348-0239 or email to learn more about all of your paternity options.

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