You received a call from your ex-girlfriend or ex-wife, saying that you just became a father or are going to be a father soon. It can be a good news or a bad news, but either one is shocking.
Usually this kind of issue arises when a father is not married or not legally married to the mother of the child or parties recently broke up or split up.
Paternity (or parentage) is the establishment of a legal relationship between a father and the child (children).
If a parent (it does not matter if it is a mother of the child or a potential father) wants to establish paternity it can be done using these two (2) approaches:
1. By signing a declaration of paternity or parentage. Both married parents and unmarried parents can sign this declaration. Signing a declaration of paternity or parentage is voluntary.
The declaration of paternity or parentage can be signed at the hospital when the child is born or it can be signed later.
Once the declaration is signed, in order to be effective, it must be filed with the California Department of Child Support Services. This declaration has the same effect as a court order establishing paternity (parentage).
2. By filing a Petition to Determine Parental Relationship (form FL-200) with the court. A party who filed the Petition or the responding party can ask for DNA test to determine paternity.
Why is it important to determine paternity?
After establishing a legal relationship between a father and the child (children) both, the mother of the child and the father, can ask the court to make orders related to child custody and visitation and child support.
Additionally, it is important to know, that you are presumed to be the natural parent of a child if you meet the following conditions:
1. You and the child’s natural mother are, or have been, married to each other and the child is born during the marriage, or within 300 days after the marriage is terminated by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, or divorce, or after a judgment of separation is entered by a court.
2. Before the child’s birth, you and the child’s natural mother have attempted to marry each other, although the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and either of the following is true:
a. If the attempted marriage could be declared invalid only by a court, the child is born during the attempted marriage, or within 300 days after its termination by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, or divorce.
b. If the attempted marriage is invalid without a court order, the child is born within 300 days after the termination of cohabitation.
3. After the child’s birth, you and the child’s natural mother have married, or attempted to marry although the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and either of the following is true:
a. With your consent, you are named as the child’s parent on the child’s birth certificate.
b. You are obligated to support the child under a written voluntary promise or by court order.
4. You receive the child into your home and openly hold out the child as your natural child.
5. The child is in utero after the death of the decedent and the conditions set forth in Section 249.5 of the Probate Code are satisfied.
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