In California, if a couple is not married at the time that their child is born, they will need to establish “parentage” or paternity through a legal process. The laws applicable to paternity are set up to protect the child’s best interests and needs, both emotional and financial. Specifically, one must establish parentage before a court will address and rule on any matters concerning custody, visitation, or child support. Parents confronting child custody disputes, including cases that involve questions of parentage, are encouraged to contact a San Diego family law attorney who can competently and efficiently navigate the local court system’s rules and procedures in a timely manner.
In a recent court of appeals case, a man claiming to be the child’s father lost his petition for paternity because, among other things, he filed parentage documents after the statute of limitations had expired. In Adrian V. v. Stephanie C., et al., plaintiff Adrian filed a petition to establish a parental relationship with N., contending that he was her father, and sought custody and support orders. Defendant, mother, opposed the petition, arguing that Adrian was not the father and she simultaneously requested an order declaring that another man, Andy, was N.’s father. She submitted the child’s birth certificate that identified Andy as the father.
The court ordered Stephanie to provide Adrian with Andy’s Voluntary Declaration of Paternity (which was executed in 2007). In response, Adrian asked the court to order DNA Testing and to vacate the paternity declaration. Both sides provided testimony supporting their relative positions. Stephanie admited to not knowing for certain who the biological father was, but “suspect[s] that it is Andy” because of his resemblance to the child. Further, Stephanie argued that the motion for DNA testing was untimely under Family Code Section 7575 and should not be granted. Adrian argued that the statute allows the court to exercise its discretion and grant the motion, even if it was filed too late.