Paternity Attorney in Covina, California
In California, fathers have the right to be involved in their children's lives, participate in parenting, and have an equal say in crucial decisions about the child. Fathers are expected to support their children and cater to their essential needs. By establishing paternity, a father can create a legal relationship with his child and gain custody rights. If you live in California and you're trying to establish parentage, you need to consult with an experienced California family law attorney for detailed guidance.
At my firm, Eugene F. Cristiano, Attorney at Law, I'm committed to offering experienced legal guidance and reliable advocacy to clients in family law and paternity-related matters. I'm available to discuss your unique circumstances, enlighten you about the benefits of establishing parentage, and advise you on your possible legal options. I can guide clients – fathers looking to gain custody/legal rights to their child and mothers looking to prove who their child's father is – through the often complex process of establishing parentage and help them navigate critical decisions.
Eugene F. Cristiano, Attorney at Law proudly serves clients across Covina, California, and throughout Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties.
Why Paternity Is Important
Establishing paternity can be described as a legal process whereby a child's biological father is determined and the father's duties, rights, and obligations to the child are established. In California, the word "paternity" may be used interchangeably with "parental relationship" or "parentage."
Here are some reasons why establishing paternity is important to a child, father, and mother.
To the child
Create a cordial relationship with the mother and father
Receive financial support, assistance, and shelter from the father
Learn about the family history
Gain access to personal information such as health risks and medical history
Be entitled to inherit the father's estate, including assets and property
Gain the right to receive Social Security and veteran's benefits, if available
Gain access to medical and dental insurance and other benefits
Be able to sue for harm or death of the father
To the mother
Share parental responsibilities with the father
Share custody with the father
Share the costs of upbringing their child
Obtain child support payments from the father
Establish visitation schedules or parenting time
To the father
Gain legal rights to their child
Establish a cordial relationship with the child
Participate in their child's life
Be able to seek custody or parenting time
Be able to include the child on his medical and dental insurance
Show how much they care for their child
In the state of California, a father will only have legal rights or responsibilities to the child once parentage has been established. A knowledgeable attorney can review your unique situation and guide you through the legal process of establishing paternity.
Establishing Paternity in California
There are two ways to establish paternity in California. This may be voluntary or through a court order.
Establishing paternity voluntarily is the simplest way to establish a parental relationship in California. It requires both parents to sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity (VDP). Signing the VDP form acknowledges the mother and father as the child's parents and the father as the child's legal father.
After signing the declaration form, the father's name can go on the child's birth certificate. Also, the form must be filed with the California Department of Child Support Services Parentage Opportunity Program (POP) for official approval.
Involuntary (court order)
A parental relationship may also be established involuntarily through a court order. This requires filing a petition for parentage in the county where your child lives. Either parent may petition a paternity action in court seeking parentage. Depending on the child's age, he or she may be considered a party in the case.
When Disputes Occur
In some cases, there may be disagreements or disputes regarding who the child's father is. Paternity disputes may be categorized into:
Disputes involving a presumed father
Disputes involving an unwed father
Disputes involving an equitable father
Disputes regarding father's rights for child custody and parenting time
Disputes regarding father's responsibility to pay child support
When disputes occur, it is important to hire a skilled family law attorney immediately to advocate for your legal rights and help file a petition to establish parentage.
Petition to Establish Parentage
In California, any of the following parties or entities may file a petition to establish parentage:
The child's mother
The putative or alleged father – the man who believes he is the child's father
The local child support agency
An adoption agency
An experienced attorney can help protect your parental rights and determine whether DNA testing is needed to establish paternity.
In the event the putative father denies that he is the father, the California court may order DNA testing. An expert will collect samples by swabbing the inside cheeks of the father, mother, and child. The samples will be sent to the laboratory for analysis and testing.
If the result of the DNA testing shows that the alleged father is the actual father, the court will issue an "order of filiation." This is a court order establishing paternity and confirming the biological father as the "legal" father.
How Legal Counsel Can Help
Establishing paternity is a crucial step towards gaining legal rights to the children, determining the child's biological father, or obtaining child support. In fact, establishing parentage also makes it possible for children born to unmarried parents to enjoy the privileges and legal rights of those born within a marriage. An experienced family law attorney can explore your available legal options to establish paternity and help protect your parental rights.
At Eugene F. Cristiano, Attorney at Law, I have the expertise and diligence to assist and guide mothers and fathers through the complicated process involved in establishing paternity. Using my in-depth understanding of California laws addressing parentage in family law cases, I can guide you through the decision-making process of establishing paternity. Also, I can help fathers establish custody rights or file a paternity action with the court to determine the child's biological father. I will work diligently with both parents to implement support and negotiate a fair parenting plan and workable custody arrangement.
in Covina, California
If you are trying to establish paternity, contact my firm – Eugene F. Cristiano, Attorney at Law – today to schedule a simple consultation. I will offer you the detailed legal counsel you need to navigate crucial decisions and fight compassionately to protect your paternity rights and child's future. My firm is proud to serve individuals and families in Covina, California, and throughout Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties.