FAQ: I have questions on Paternity Testing and Disputing Parentage; where can I get help?
Paternity Testing and Disputing Parentage in California
Under California law, a child has a right to spend time with both of his or her parents, and the right to financial support from both parents. This is why the State of California has processes in place to issue, enforce, and modify child support orders, child custody orders, and visitation orders. If you have questions about obtaining, modifying, or enforcing any child related family law orders, always work with an attorney to make sure that the child’s best interests are protected.
In order to issue any of these family law related court orders, a child’s parents must be legally acknowledged so that the orders can enforce both parents’ legal rights and legal obligations regarding the child. For these reasons, there are legal processes in place to legally acknowledge a child’s parents and issue birth certificates that include both parents’ names. The final (or first) step in any of these processes is determining who the child’s parents are, which is where paternity testing can come into play.
Yesterday we discussed the importance of establishing paternity in California. Parentage can have an effect not only on the child’s life, but also on the lives and finances of both parents. Figuring out who the mother is can be a simple process - a mother gives birth to a child. However, determining paternity, or who the father is, may or may not be a simple process. Whether a mother has multiple partners, a father walks out or does not want to admit paternity, or there is simply no relationship between the father and mother or father and child, sometimes, a paternity test may need to be done to determine who the father of a child is.
When is Paternity Testing Necessary in Orange County CA?
There are several ways to establish parentage in California - including a few situations where parentage is presumed under the law, and where a parent can voluntarily acknowledge parentage. However, when the law wrongly assumes parentage, or when a parent is either unknown, or refuses to acknowledge parentage, testing may be needed.
In most cases where he disagrees, a man who has been told that he is a father has the right to ask the court for a DNA test to determine whether or not he is the father of the child in question.
Either parent can request genetic testing to determine the father of the child.
When Paternity has been Presumed
Paternity is presumed in certain cases. For example, when two people are married or in a registered domestic partnership at the time the child is conceived, or at the time the child is born, they are assumed to be the parents of the child.
This is called a conclusive presumption. A conclusive presumption, in most cases, cannot be proven wrong, regardless of any evidence that could potentially disprove it - including a DNA test or another kind of paternity test. There are very few exceptions to this rule.
If you don’t believe that a child is yours, but you are married to, or in a registered domestic partnership with, the child’s mother at the time of conception or the time the child is born, always contact an attorney. The laws surrounding this scenario are complex, and the State will always promote the child having two legal parents.
Voluntary Declarations of Paternity
If the mother is not married or in a registered domestic partnership at the time of conception or when the child is born, the parents have the option to sign a form called a voluntary declaration of paternity, which allows them to legally acknowledge that they are the parents of the child. This is a simple process that allows legal parentage to be acknowledged without going to trial.
If either parent decides, after signing a voluntary declaration of paternity, that they wish to take it back, it may be possible to do so. Within 60 days of signing the voluntary declaration of paternity and there is no active case using the form, the parent may file a Declaration of Paternity Rescission form.
If more than 60 days have passed, or if there is an open case, you can go to court to try to reverse your voluntary declaration of paternity.
Following your hearing, in the case that the judge approves your request to overturn the voluntary declaration of paternity, both parents must submit to DNA testing to determine parentage.
If the DNA test shows that the father who was listed on the declaration of paternity is definitely not the child’s father, the judge will issue an order that states this as legal fact. If the DNA test shows that the father listed on the declaration of paternity is, in fact, the father of the child in question, the voluntary declaration of paternity will not be rescinded, and it can be used to create other court orders regarding the child.
In this case, paternity testing will have determined that the father is in fact the man who signed the declaration of paternity, and he is both legally responsible for child support and has the right to child custody or visitation, as long as it is in the child’s best interest.
When Paternity Issues Go to Trial
If paternity has yet to be determined, and the parents did not sign a voluntary declaration of paternity, it may be up to the courts to determine paternity. Usually, paternity tests may be requested at the beginning of a case.
Several kinds of cases may require paternity testing. If you have been asked to pay child support or child custody, you may request a paternity test to prove parentage beforehand.
As paternity testing fits into the case, you will have a couple of options once you get the results. Always discuss these options with a qualified paternity lawyer so that you make sure you are doing what is best for you and your child.
Paternity testing is not 100 percent accurate.
If the DNA test shows that there is a high probability that the father and child are related, the father may agree with the test results and admit paternity, legally, or, he may request a trial regarding the child’s paternity.
If the DNA test shows that there is little or no probability that the father and child are related, the case will likely be dismissed.
If, regardless of the outcome, the father does not agree with the test results, he may request a second test to be performed in another lab - but the parents may need to pay for the test.
How Paternity Testing is Done in California?
Modern DNA testing is not 100 percent accurate, but it is improving in accuracy every day. There are several types of testing that exist; swab testing and DNA testing being the most commonly used. These tests compare the DNA of a man and a child. DNA can be collected through saliva or blood. Blood types can be used as a way to determine if a man is definitely not the father of a child, however, they cannot be used to prove that a man is the father of a child.
It is possible to test a child’s DNA before the child is born, but it can be extremely dangerous to both mother and child. Many laboratories will not test a child who is younger than six months old.
Orange County Paternity Testing Attorney
If you have questions about the paternity of your child, or if you are trying to determine the accurate paternity of a child, contact an attorney. Sometimes, determining paternity can be a simple process. However, when genetic testing is involved, it’s usually not.
Paternity can often be difficult to disprove, so it is best to make sure that it is done correctly the first time. Working with a qualified paternity lawyer can help you ensure that you are taking all of the necessary steps to protect yourself and to provide the best life for the child in question.
Contact the skilled paternity lawyers at Yanez & Associates today to schedule your free initial consultation.