If you have a child and were not married to the child’s mother, you will need to establish paternity to insure your rights as the child’s father. The law always recognizes the mother of the child as a parent. But if the mother and father were not married when the child was born, then the law only recognizes the father upon establishment of paternity. Establishing paternity gives your child the same benefits and rights as those children born to parents who are married. These include:
- Financial support
- Ability to collect Social Security Benefits
- Medical insurance from both parents (if available)
- Your name on your child’s birth certificate
There are several avenues open to establishing paternity. The parties can sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity to legally determine the identity of the father of the child. If the parents are not in agreement regarding the identity of the father, you are entitled, under California law, to a DNA paternity test to legally prove if you are the father of the child. You will need to file a paternity lawsuit asking that the Court declare that you are the father of the child. Filing of a paternity action will insure that your rights to custody and visitation are established. The Court will also make orders regarding your support of the child.