Unmarried Fathers in San Diego: What Happens Next in 2013?

Becoming a parent changes things. Being an unmarried parent can add complex legal and emotional issues, especially if the romantic relationship ends. For many men in San Diego, the first big question is “is the baby really mine?” and this can happen whether or not you are married. As San Diego is a large military town with branches of military service, some men find their wives have conceived a child while they are on deployment. It is possible to discreetly obtain inexpensive DNA testing at home from an online testing service. However, these results can only be used for your personal information; they probably won’t be admissible in court.

You can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity if you are not married. These forms are available at prenatal clinics, hospitals, birthing centers and county offices. They must be notarized. One big mistake men have made is to sign this form knowing the child belongs to a former boyfriend. Then the relationship ends and the man finds himself saddled with years of child support payments with no real emotional tie to the child. It is not advisable to make a decision based on emotion as circumstances {and emotion} can change.

A legal action to determine paternity can often begin with the intention of obtaining financial support by the mother. California law requires an unmarried mother seeking public assistance to cooperate in obtaining child support from the other parent and to list the father on forms used for the processing of obtaining state aid in almost any form. The court will order DNA testing in order to confirm than you are the child’s father.

Child support is determined according to an established set of guidelines. In family law court in San Diego, this is called the “Disso Master” program. It is very important for you to understand how this procedure works in order to avoid future problems. For example, if your income fluctuates seasonally, the timing of the calculation can result in significant variations in results. If both parents can maintain a cooperative relationship, joint custody can help to minimize financial support obligations.

If you suffer significant financial setbacks after a child support order has been entered, it is important to promptly consult an attorney and file a motion for modification as the child support orders for modification downward [or upward] are only retroactive to the date of the filing of the motion. This may help you being not in compliance with the order and avoiding enforcement mechanisms including wage garnishment, bank levies, property liens and even avoid going to jail for non-support.

Besides the responsibility to provide financial support for your child, paternity also gives you legal rights concerning the child. These rights include participation in parenting decisions, visitation, and may even include custody if the court determines it would be in the child’s best interests.

For many parents in custody or visitation disputes, new boyfriends or girlfriends on the other side can raise unpleasant control issues. As a general rule, one parent cannot exercise control over the other parent’s romantic relationships if those relationships do not present a significant verifiable risk to the child. Other potential problems may include moving, a change in religious practices or difficult medical decisions.

Should you aggressively pursue your rights to visitation or custody? These are decisions you should make with the advice of a knowledgeable San Diego divorce lawyer. What is best for the child? The child’s age, the relationship you have, and factors such as health or emotional issues of both parents are all considered by the court in making custody decisions. For a free initial consultation about paternity issues, call our office at 858-312-8500 or contact us online.

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