San Francisco Paternity Attorneys

Effective Advocacy for Parents in the Counties of San Francisco, Alameda, San Mateo, Contra Costa, Marin, & Santa Clara

Parentage is an issue that can have a huge impact on the life of a child, as well as the parents. It is also a sensitive matter that calls for discretion, confidentiality, and experience in navigating California parentage law. Establishing parentage is critical for a biological unmarried father seeking to play an integral role in his child’s life. It is also critical for unmarried mothers who wish to ensure that her child has the financial support and legal benefits to which they may be entitled. Parentage may even arise as an issue for married persons who wish to refute its automatic presumption.

Regardless of what side of the parentage issue you are on, Nachlis | Cohade | Lopez-Whitaker, LLP has the experience, skills, and resources needed to help you resolve your case as efficiently as possible. Furthermore, once parentage has been determined, our team can further assist in resolving any related matters, such as child custody and support, which may follow. 

How Parentage is Determined in California

The legal process of determining parentage is done through DNA testing and can involve a court trial with the chance for both mother and potential father to present their cases to the judge. It is important to understand that proof of an unmarried father’s parentage does not automatically result in custody rights. Fathers must gain custody rights through court action once parentage has been established; they will also be responsible for child support. 

Conversely, an unmarried mother who proves the parentage of her child must then file court actions to gain state-mandated child support from the father. Parentage actions involving married couples can also occur when parentage is disputed and the husband is proven to not be the parent of a child born to the couple. If parentage is an issue for you, it is important to seek the guidance of a family law attorney. 

Parentage is established in California in two ways: 

  • When a child is born to a married couple, the state presumes that the husband is the biological father who is then named as such on the child’s birth certificate.
  • When a child is born to an unmarried mother, the biological father can formally declare his parentage of the child by way of a Voluntary Declaration of Parentage

What is a Voluntary Declaration of Parentage?

A Voluntary Declaration of Parentage is a legal form that that declares parentage of a child by the child's biological unmarried father. Both parents must sign the form file it with the state. Absent this, either unmarried parent can file a parentage suit in court to establish the father’s parentage. 

Once a man signs the Voluntary Declaration of Parentage, he then will be considered the legal father of the child; this gives him child custody rights and responsibilities, as well as child support obligations should he and the mother part. Signing this form is as good as a court order. A man who signs the Voluntary Declaration cannot later declare that he is not the father to avoid his parental obligations. 

The Importance of Parentage

Parentage establishes the legal rights and responsibilities of a father. These rights give fathers the ability to maintain an ongoing relationship with their children and to play a major role in their lives. It also provides the child with a family medical history, inheritance rights, and rights to governmental and other benefits, as well as a key emotional connection that can give the child stability, comfort, and guidance.

Request a confidential consultation with a San Francisco parentage attorney at Nachlis | Cohade | Lopez-Whitaker, LLP about your case. Contact us online or call (415) 855-9344 to get started.