Paternity Cases

Picture1Paternity cases help to legally determine who is the father of a child.  The mother of the child is present at the birth, so her identity is rarely challenged!  These types of cases can be confusing and stressful for all involved, as they can permanently change the course of a family’s future.  Knowing who is the biological father of a child is often important for not just financial reasons, but also emotional ones.  The outcome of your case will have a profound effect on what your family and your life will look like going forward.  Because of the issues involved, it’s often in your best interest to hire a knowledgeable attorney who can guide you through the process.

Who Can File a Paternity Case?

Paternity cases may be filed for a number of reasons and they can be brought forth by several different parties.  Usually, these cases are filed by one of three parties: the father, the mother, or the government.

When the mother of a child files a paternity case, it is typically in order to seek child support from the other parent.  For the mother, determining paternity will allow her to gain financial, and perhaps even emotional, assistance from the second parent in order to raise the child.  Determining paternity can also provide children with rights and access to benefits such as social security, health insurance, military benefits, and inheritance rights.

The father or alleged father may also bring paternity actions.  This person may believe he is one of a child’s parents, and therefore wants to obtain custody or visitation rights to the child.  On the other hand, this person may suspect that he is not the child’s biological parent, and is therefore requesting genetic testing to determine paternity.  Today’s genetic tests can confirm paternity with 99.9% accuracy, making them a reliable tool in many paternity cases.  In cases where the potential fathers are related, DNA is less reliable.

Very commonly, though, a paternity case is filed by a department of the government called the Department of Child Support Service (usually referred to as DCSS). When DCSS files a paternity case, it is trying to recover money from one or both of a child’s parents to reimburse the county for cash aid or health care provided to a child. Oftentimes, these types of cases arise when a mother sought financial help from Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF).  When a parent receives TANF support, welfare officials must seek reimbursement from other parent.  Sometimes, this requires them to first determine who the other parent is – via a paternity case.

When Should a Paternity Case Be Filed?

If a person suspects that he might not be the child’s parent, but he signed an admission of paternity at the hospital, or DCSS obtained a default Judgment against him, there is only a short time to request a blood test (genetic testing) to determine paternity.  Once the statutory deadline has been allowed to pass, the parent may be ordered to pay support for a child until high school graduation or the age of 19, whichever comes first—even if the child can be proven NOT to be any relation at all.  Paternity rights can thus lead to tremendous emotional and financial responsibilities.

Because so much of the law relating to paternity cases has deadlines, please consult an attorney regarding your rights and your possible liabilities at the earliest time possible.  To discuss your situation and options with an experienced family law attorney, contact Julie Clark, Attorney at Law and request an appointment at a time convenient for you.

Establishing paternity early in the child’s life is important, not only for the child’s own emotional health and understanding, but for financial reasons. Even if the other parent does not currently have the ability to pay child support or provide any financial assistance to the child, establishing paternity now will make it easier to collect child support, health insurance benefits, and other forms of assistance in the future.

Types of Paternity

When it comes to paternity, there are several different categories used to define a man’s relationship to a child.

  • An acknowledged father is someone who, though not married to the mother, acknowledges that he is the father of the child.
  • A presumed father is someone who either 1) was married to the mother when the child was conceived or born, 2) attempted to marry the mother at the time the child was conceived or born, 3) married the mother after the child was born and agreed to be listed as the father on the birth certificate or 4) supported the child and acknowledged it as his own.
  • An equitable parent is someone who, though not a biological or adoptive parent, has had a close relationship with the child and considers him or herself a parent. This status is often used in cases involving same-sex couples with children.
  • An alleged father is someone who is not married to the mother, but is alleged to be the father of her child.
  • A stepfather is someone who, though not the biological father of her children, is married to their mother.

An acknowledged, presumed, or equitable parent may obligated to provide child support and may also be granted visitation rights or custody.  An alleged father may have to provide child support if the court determines that he is indeed the father or if he acknowledges the child as his own.  A stepfather may only be obligated to support his stepchildren if he legally adopts them.

Family Law Attorney in Hemet, California

Paternity cases can easily become complex and emotionally draining for all involved.  Julie Clark, Attorney at Law is an experienced and compassionate professional with extensive knowledge of family law in California.  If you are considering filing a paternity case or have found yourself involved in one, contact Julie Clark, Attorney at Law in Hemet, California today.  Julie will walk you through every step of the legal process, allowing you to focus more fully on living your life and handling the emotional side of determining paternity. Reach out to our office today to learn more about how we can provide you with support and expert guidance throughout your paternity case.