Irvine Paternity Lawyer for Establishing Paternity and Other Issues
Historically, the legal determination of “who is a parent” primarily focused on who was determined to be a child’s father. Consequently, an Irvine paternity lawyer is regularly called upon to represent parents, or potential parents, to establish parentage, child custody and child support for non-marital relationships.
Today, the issue of parentage is a much more complex issue. A person’s status as a legal parent of a child may arise in a number of ways, including:
- By receiving a child into one’s home and holding that child out as one’s own.
- By signing a parentage declaration.
- Through the use of assisted reproductive techniques
A legal parent and child relationship gives rise to numerous legal rights, privileges, and obligations. Contact our Orange County paternity law firm if you believe you need to create or modify your rights.
Establishing Paternity in California
In California, a child who is born to married parents is presumed to be the biological child of both parents, and no further steps are required to establish paternity. This carries over to the divorce process, where each parent is on equal ground when it comes to seeking legal and physical custody rights. This also means that both parents have a legal obligation to provide financial support for children born during the marriage, whether in the form of direct financial support or monthly child support payments made to the other parent. The same is true for parents who are registered domestic partners.
However, outside of the context of a marriage or registered domestic partnership between parents, more is required to establish paternity. In order to establish parental rights under other circumstances, it is necessary to obtain an official Declaration of Paternity from the California Courts. An Irvine paternity lawyer at our firm can help you move through this process. It is important to note that if the parents are in agreement regarding paternity, this can be enough to establish parentage. But, if any parent or putative parent disputes a claimed parentage, then genetic testing will be required.
For same-sex couples, establishing parentage requires evidence that both spouses or partners intended that they be treated as the child’s parents and that they have acted accordingly. This can be done through a variety of means and, once again, the process is much easier if the parents are in agreement. Nonetheless, issues still commonly arise; and, as concisely summarized by the California courts, “[t]he law on parentage can be complicated[,] so [you should] talk to your court’s family law facilitator or to a lawyer to make sure you understand the details of your situation.”
Using Genetic Testing to Establish Paternity with the Help of an Irvine Paternity Lawyer
In California, there are a variety of ways to establish paternity through genetic testing. Some of the most common methods include prenatal testing, blood testing, and DNA testing. Generally speaking, a party that does not voluntarily agree to genetic paternity testing may be ordered by the court to complete the test. Your Irvine paternity lawyer can assist you with the process.
A prenatal test is usually administered eight weeks into the mother’s pregnancy. These tests are non-invasive and do not present any risk to the health and safety of the child. In order to complete a prenatal test, a blood sample is obtained from the mother, and the fetus DNA within this sample is then isolated and matched to the potential father’s blood sample to determine whether their genetic makeup is identical.
After the child is born, testing paternity is achieved through a standard blood test. These tests are unfortunately not as accurate as prenatal tests, but nonetheless do carry high accuracy rates. With this type of test, the child’s blood is drawn and analyzed against the father’s blood, paying careful attention to each sample’s blood type. Because genes play a major role in determining a child’s blood type, a matching blood type can be a strong indicator of paternity. In some instances, a second test will be conducted to confirm the results of the initial test. When both tests appear to lead to the same result, paternity is established.
Finally, DNA testing is the newest and most accurate testing method used to establish paternity in California. DNA testing involves collecting samples of tissue – such as hair, skin, or saliva – and blood from both the child and its potential father. Once these samples are collected, they are matched to determine whether the genetic profiles suggest paternity. Because DNA is completely unique to each individual, DNA tests are nearly infallible and produce highly accurate results. Still, DNA tests are often administered and analyzed twice, in order to ensure their accuracy.
Legal Rights, Privileges and Obligations Linked to Parentage
The legal rights, privileges and obligations that arise through paternity can affect the father, the mother and the child, and this makes conclusively establishing paternity critical for everyone involved. At Seastrom Tuttle & Murphy, our Irvine paternity lawyer works with mothers, fathers, putative parents and children who are seeking to establish or dispute paternity, and we help parents and children enforce their legal rights as well.
In California, a parent has the legal right and obligation to care for his or her child. Unless otherwise ordered by a judge, a parent also has the right to participate in the making of significant decisions about his or her child’s upbringing, education, health care and religion.
Equally important, establishing parentage gives rise to legal rights for the child. For example, in California, a child has the right to:
- Receive financial support from each of his or her parents;
- Inherit from each of his or her parents; and,
- Receive Social Security and other benefits that are available through each of his or her parents.
Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQs): Establishing and Disputing Paternity in Irvine, CA
Why is it important to legally establish paternity in California with the help of an Irvine paternity lawyer?
From a legal perspective, there are several reasons why hiring an Irvine paternity lawyer to help formally establish paternity through the California courts is critically important. For example, unless and until paternity is established:
- The putative father will not be legally recognized as the child’s parent on his or her birth certificate;
- The putative father will have no legal rights to make decisions concerning the health, education, or welfare of the child, even in an emergency situation.
- The child will not have access to the putative’ father’s family medical history;
- The child will not have the statutory right to inherit from the putative father or his blood relatives;
- The child will not be eligible for health or life insurance under a policy held by the putative father; and,
- The child will not be eligible to collect social security or veteran’s benefits based upon the putative father’s eligibility.
Additionally, while both parents may currently agree about how and when they each spend time with their child, if circumstances change, proof of paternity will be necessary to establish the putative father’s right to custody and the mother’s right to child support, if applicable.
When is a man presumed to be a child’s father in California?
If a man is married to a child’s mother when the child is born, he is presumed to be the child’s father under California law. However, this is not the only circumstance in which paternity is presumed. In California, a man is also presumed to be a child’s father if:
- The man married the child’s mother after the child’s birth and agreed to have his name on the child’s birth certificate or provide financial support.
- The rule of “presumed parenthood” applies because the man welcomed the child into his home and openly acted as if the child was his own for an extended period.
Importantly, in all scenarios, the presumption of paternity can be overcome. If you need to dispute parentage based on one of these presumptions, we encourage you to speak with our Irvine paternity lawyer promptly.
Do the presumptions of paternity apply to same-sex couples?
Yes. For purposes of establishing a presumption of paternity, the rules that apply to opposite-sex and same-sex couples are the same. Additionally, as explained by the California courts, “[t]he presumptions that apply to married couples also apply to same-sex couples and those who entered into a registered domestic partnership after January 2005.” If you have questions about establishing paternity as a same-sex partner or spouse, our lawyers can walk you through everything you need to know.
Speak with an Irvine Paternity Lawyer Today
The Orange County paternity attorneys at Seastrom Law understand that discretion is necessary when handling paternity cases in California, particularly where the parties involved are high net worth individuals or celebrity clients. Because we understand the sensitive nature of these issues, we guide our clients through the process in a manner that eliminates unwanted attention and ensures that the establishment of paternity is handled quickly and efficiently. Call 949-474-0800 today.