Simply defined, “paternity” is another word for “fatherhood” as a practical definition in San Diego. But for many people, the legal concept of paternity has many meanings. The issues for “fatherhood” are the legal right for a parenting plan and the legal obligation to pay child support. In San Diego, a petition for a paternity judgment can occur in either family law court or at the DCSS court.
The most commonly understood aspect of paternity is the collection of child support. Even if a man has no emotional ties to his child and never sees his child, public policy expects him to contribute to the child’s financial support. Many single mothers eagerly anticipate receiving child support payments but may be reluctant to allow a real relationship between the father and his child. On the other hand, some fathers go to great lengths to avoid financial or emotional responsibility and do not want to see their child. It is very important for the father to analyze what their goal is. For example, some fathers in a paternity case may be currently married to a female who is not the mother and is their wife. They may have children with their wife. To have a relationship with a child not of the marriage may cause serious issues with their wife [perhaps even divorce] and their children of the marriage [perhaps even estrangement].
Financial bickering between the parents leads to other disputes. For example, some fathers try to turn the financial tables by fighting to obtain custody themselves in order to be on the receiving end of child support. Control issues can turn visitation into a confrontation. Each parent’s relationship with the child becomes an accumulating score card in a battle that may go unresolved for years. Often one parent, usually the father, may find it easier to simply fade out of the child’s life however this is clearly not in the child’s best interests. Of course, the child did not ask to be born and their health, safety, education and welfare should come first.
But while the adults are taking battle positions to protect their own interests, the child may have interests that aren’t being addressed. Below are some of these considerations.
What Paternity Means to a Baby
It may seem that a father has little to offer a baby or toddler. Diapers and bottles may be seen as a mother’s department. However, bonding begins at an early age, and feeling safe, secure and loved is important to the foundation of a child’s personality. Furthermore, a baby can sense a mother’s stress in a difficult situation. In 2013, the law in San Diego is clear that parenting is not a gender issue and many fathers are primary physical custodians and raising their children from infancy to adulthood. Times have changes and the law has changed as well.
Paternity and the Elementary Age Child
When children start school, it is common for them to compare their lives to their classmates. For children who are missing a father, or experiencing a succession of temporary father figures, it may become increasingly difficult for them to develop an essential sense of safety and security. It is common for children of this age to fantasize about their parents getting back together or to blame themselves for the breakup of the family. As the child develops early social relationships, it is common to associate with children in similar situations. This can affect the child’s later goals and aspirations as well. It is very important to have a strong bond with both parents and to have frequent and continuing contact under the law.
Pre-teens and Paternity
The pre-teen years may represent the greatest vulnerability to the child of a single parent home. Even as drug and gang temptations reach out to the child, the rising cost of child care may lead a working mother to provide less formal supervision after school. It is crucial that both parents work together so that their child can have the best childhood and life possible.
Teenagers and Paternity
Many teenagers consider their friends the most important aspect of their lives. Once again, the friends they choose will probably reflect their own lifestyle. It is at this point where many fathers may attempt unsuccessfully to reconnect with their child. Some statistics suggest that daughters raised without a father are more sexually vulnerable, and sons raised without a father are more likely to use drugs, join gangs and commit crimes. While there is no conclusive proof of this, it is important to recognize this so that this does not happen to your child.
If you are facing paternity issues, the situation may not be easy for you, but know that it has the potential to be even harder for your child. Consulting a qualified San Diego divorce attorney may help you protect your rights as well as your child’s future. For a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at 858-312-8500.