Sacramento Child Support Establishment Lawyer Offers Strong Advocacy
Representation in disputes where paternity is an issue
California law requires both parents to provide support for a child, but courts cannot issue an order unless the parent-child relationship is a legal certainty. There is rarely doubt about the identity of a child’s mother, but unless a woman is married when she conceives or gives birth, there is no legal presumption about the identity of the father. As a result, unwed parents and children born out of wedlock must often take an extra step in the process by filing a parentage action against the other parent. At the Law Office of Stephanie L. Williams, we represent mothers and children in paternity actions. We also represent fathers who need to establish paternity before seeking visitation rights.
How unmarried parents can establish paternity in California
Unmarried fathers can establish paternity voluntarily at the hospital shortly after the child is born by signing a declaration of paternity. Fathers who sign the declaration have the same rights and responsibilities as men whose fatherhood is presumed due to marriage. These rights and responsibilities include the right to custody and/or visitation and the obligation to pay child support.
The California Department of Child Support Services partners with licensed hospitals in the Paternity Opportunity Program, an effort to connect unwed fathers with their children.
Unfortunately, some unwed fathers are not interested in the responsibilities that come with children. But mothers and children have recourse through the courts to establish paternity over a father’s objections.
Bringing a parentage action in California courts
Either parent can bring a parentage case in court by filing the required forms, including a Petition to Establish Parental Relationship and a Summons. Fathers who want an order for custody and visitation can file the requisite form for consideration. Mothers and children who want support orders must file a financial declaration as well.
It is important to have an experienced child support lawyer review your forms before you file, and provide advice about how to proceed. Mistakes in your filing can adversely prejudice your case.
After you file with the court, you must arrange for copies of the Petition and Summons to be served on the other party. The responding party has 30 days to file an answer.
How the case proceeds depends on whether the respondent files an answer within the required time. Fathers sometimes are willing to admit paternity after being served. If a man is unwilling, the petitioning mother must present sufficient evidence to the court to justify an order for a DNA test to settle the question of fatherhood. If the results are positive, the man is legally the father of the child; he must pay child support and, depending on the circumstances, may be entitled to custody or visitation.
Contact a board-certified family law specialist to establish parentage in Sacramento
A father’s rights and responsibilities cannot be enforced without a legal presumption or determination of parentage. At the Law Office of Stephanie L. Williams, we represent clients seeking to establish parentage for the purpose of child support or visitation. To learn how a board-certified family law specialist can help, call 916-407-0544 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.