What Mothers Need to Know About Paternity. Unmarried mothers often feel abandoned and alone, especially if the father is no longer in the picture. However, California law has a compelling interest in making sure that each child has both a mother and a father. Each parent has rights and responsibilities concerning the child, and family law courts are available to determine and enforce those rights and responsibilities. A San Diego divorce attorney can help guide you through the complex issues of paternity.
There are three legal issues in paternity cases: child support, custody and visitation. In order to obtain public assistance for yourself or your child, you will be required to cooperate in establishing paternity and obtaining child support. Establishing paternity can have additional financial benefits for your child, such as military benefits, Social Security, health insurance, survivor benefits and inheritance rights. While the majority of absent fathers aren’t interested in obtaining custody, some respond to a child support action by demanding custody. Visitation is another common area of contention. Consulting a qualified San Diego divorce attorney can preserve your rights and establish the absent father’s responsibility to your child.
There are four ways to establish paternity: presumption, acknowledgement, court order, and DNA proof. When the parties are married, there is a presumption that the husband is the biological father of any children born to the marriage. An acknowledgement is a form signed at the time of birth wherein the father acknowledges paternity. The family law court can issue an order determining paternity. In some circumstances, the court has determined legal paternity even when biological tests prove otherwise. Finally, DNA testing confirms biological paternity.
In California, child support is determined by statutory guidelines which take into account number of children, tax information, income, property tax, mortgage interest, union dues, and health insurance information.
If parents are unable to agree on a reasonable visitation schedule, visitation will be determined by the court.
There are many visitation issues that can arise. For example, one common situation is “I don’t want my child around the new boyfriend/girlfriend.” As a general rule, one parent can’t control who the other parent associates with, even with the child present. Another common situation is “I want visitation to be supervised.” In order to require supervised visitation, you may need to document that unsupervised visitation endangers the child in some way. Finally, many people mistakenly believe that a child support arrearage justifies denial of visitation. If the court has established a visitation order, there can be serious legal consequences if you refuse to obey the order.
The issues that arise in a paternity action can affect you and your child for the rest of your lives. A qualified attorney can advise you on your best course of action. For a free confidential consultation, call us at 858-312-8500 or contact our office online.