We get a decent amount of Paternity cases in our divorce office in Santa Clarita and realized we don’t write much about it. We are going to take a few days to discuss paternity and what it means.
If you have a child before you are married, you will need to establish paternity. This means to have the father of the child officially determined by the court to be the father.
When you have a child prior to marriage, the mother is obviously known as she gave birth. When you are married, the husband of the marriage is presumed to be the father. But without being married, there is no presumption of who the father is.
This means Paternity needs to be established. It Is important to establish paternity because technically, until the father has been established “as the father” they don’t have any real legal rights to custody or visitation, etc.
And if your are the mother, and hoping for child support, until who the father is, has been established, the court cannot make orders for child support.
A paternity case follows suit pretty much as the divorce process does.
The paperwork is different, of course, but how you file and serve and request order are pretty much the same.
You will need to first file a petition to establish paternity. This petition will need to served on the other party. In most the cases we have handled, there is no dispute over who the father is. We are just working on officially having the father established.
In many cases, the father may appear on the birth certificate or may have signed a declaration of paternity in the hospital. These all help in establishing paternity with the courts, but you still have to file a paternity case with the court to officially establish who the father is.