Roseline D. Feral

Paternity and Legitimation

Family Law Attorney Representing People in San Diego and Surrounding Cities

Paternity is a critical question for a number of issues, including child custody, child support, and more. Whether you are a mother wanting to establish paternity for child support, or you are a father wanting to establish paternity to gain custody or visitation rights, we can help. San Diego paternity lawyer Roseline D. Feral is experienced in complex family law cases, including those involving paternity and legitimation.

Understanding Paternity Proceedings in California

Paternity or “parentage” cases refer to cases in which the judge grants a court order that establishes a child’s legal father. As a result, a paternity determination affects the rights and obligations of both the father and the child. Paternity can be established by presumption, consent, or court determination. Under California law, a man is presumed to be the natural father of a child in two situations:

  • When the child is born during a marriage, the mother’s husband is presumed to be the child’s father; and
  • When a man has been living with the child and mother in a family-like environment and has shown a consistent commitment to the child, the man will be presumed to be the child’s father, even if he is not the actual biological father.

If neither of these circumstances is present, paternity will need to be established with the assistance of a paternity attorney in the San Diego area. Legitimation is a legal process that establishes the father of a child born out of wedlock as the child’s father. In California, paternity can be established through a voluntary declaration or an action in court.

A voluntary declaration is when a child’s father signs a “Voluntary Declaration of Paternity” (VDP). When an unmarried woman gives birth in a hospital or another medical setting, the health care providers must give her information about the VDP. By signing the form, the father is acknowledging his status as the legal father. His name can be added to the child’s birth certificate, and all legal duties and obligations take effect at that point. It is important to note that an unmarried father is not automatically listed on the child’s birth certificate unless a VDP is signed in the hospital or shortly thereafter.

On the other hand, an action for paternity or parentage can be filed under this Act to establish paternity. In California, a number of parties can ask the court for an order on paternity, including the child’s mother, a man who believes that he is the father, the local child support agency, or an adoption agency. A San Diego paternity attorney can advise either the mother or the potential father on this process.

As a practical matter, when paternity is disputed, a DNA test may be required. DNA is the biological material that determines a person’s physical characteristics and is unique for each individual. A DNA test can be used to compare a man’s DNA profile to that of the child and determine whether or not there is a match. A DNA test is typically used when there is a dispute as to the identity of the father.

A DNA test can be voluntary or performed in response to a court order. In fact, a court can order genetic tests in any action in which paternity is a relevant fact. The court, on its own motion or based on a suggestion made by any person who is involved, order the father to submit to genetic tests. If paternity is established, the court can make orders regarding child support, custody, and visitation.

Contact an Experienced Paternity Lawyer in the San Diego Area

Whether you are seeking to establish paternity or disputing a paternity test, our experienced team can guide you through the process. We understand that this is an emotionally charged matter, but we will handle your case with care and compassion. Roseline D. Feral represents people in San Diego, Chula Vista, Coronado, Del Mar, Carlsbad, Encinitas, La Jolla, Oceanside, Escondido, Ramona, Rancho Santa Fe, San Marcos, Valley Center, and Vista, among other cities. For more information about how to establish paternity in your case, you can call us at 619-232-1010, or you can reach Attorney Feral directly at 619-301-1191. Alternatively, you can contact us online. We can also assist people who are seeking to terminate parental rights or resolve another legal matter related to a child.