California law provides no distinction between married and unmarried couples when it comes to issues of paternity and paternal rights. Despite a child’s emotional or actual relationship with a parent, it is the legal adoption and documentation of paternal rights that is crucial in legitimization. A child’s biological mother is automatically established as one of the child’s parents; however the father of the child is a more delicate issue. If a child is born to a set of married parents, the husband is usually presumed and assigned as the child’s father. However, when it comes to unmarried couples who have a child, paternity is not automatically established for the man. If a father wishes to establish paternity there are many options available. When both parents agree to establish paternity, it is recommended they sign a Declaration of Paternity, preferably at the hospital when the child is born. If one parent is not in agreement, a paternity action can be petitioned in court where DNA testing is usually used to establish whether or not paternity exists. Within two years of a child’s birth, blood testing can also be used to dispute paternity that is presumed to exist, and parental obligations can be forfeited. A California Family Law attorney can be incredibly resourceful when it comes to their vast knowledge of family law statutes, and ability to assess and advise the best way to approach establishing paternity. If you are someone you love would like to establish, dispute or forfeit their paternal rights, call the attorneys of Fischer & Van Thiel LLP at 760-722-7646 today and let us help represent your rights.

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