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Do Unmarried Parents Have to Pay Child Support in California

July 31, 2021 Uncategorized

When it comes to child support in California, many people believe that the parents’ marriage – or lack thereof – is the most crucial aspect.

While marriage does play a significant impact in child support – especially if child support is required due to divorce – it is not the only factor. Parental status is another crucial element.

Child Support, Parenting, and Marriage

The parentage of a child must be verified before a court would hear a petition for child support. This is the legal process of determining a child’s parents. Identifying a child’s mother is usually simple: she is the person who gave birth to the child. Identifying the father, on the other hand, is a little more difficult.

For Married Couples: Identifying Parentage

Before we go into the difficulties of establishing paternity when a child’s parents are not married, let’s go over how it works when they are. Even if the father is not biologically connected to the child, California law presumes that when a child is born into a marriage, both spouses are the legal parents.

It may surprise you, but who signs the birth certificate in this circumstance isn’t as important as you may assume. Even if a child is born as a result of an affair and the mother’s lover shows up to sign the birth certificate, her husband is legally the child’s father. Within two years, the boyfriend could apply for a paternity test, but he would only be granted visitation and would be responsible for child support.

The reason for this is that once the courts have determined that the husband is the child’s legal father, nothing – not even a paternity test – can change that. In California, the existence of a biological link to a kid takes precedence over marriage to the child’s mother.

Unmarried Persons: Determining Parentage

If a child is born outside of marriage, he or she does not yet have a legal father. This can be solved if a man agrees to sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity, but this assumes that he is prepared to assume his rights and responsibilities as a child’s father, including child support obligations.

The following rights are waived when you sign a Declaration of Paternity:

  • DNA analysis (Genetic Testing)
  • Any parentage hearing will be publicized.
  • An attorney’s representation throughout the process
  • An opportunity to argue your case during trial

Parentage can only be determined by a court order if either the unmarried mother or the unmarried father decides to contest the child’s paternity. A guy will almost certainly be required to pay child support if a DNA test proves that he is biologically related to the child in question.

Even if he is not biologically connected to a kid, an unmarried man can be forced to pay child support in certain circumstances. When an unmarried male stays with an unmarried woman and shows a commitment to the kid by providing food, shelter, clothes, and other necessities, the law may consider him to be a father (or a “equitable parent” in this situation).

Despite the fact that we discussed this earlier, it’s worth repeating that a birth certificate does not establish parenthood for unmarried couples. This can only be accomplished by completing a Voluntary Declaration of Parentage or obtaining a court order.


In conclusion, unmarried parents in California are required to pay child support, but only when the kid’s parentage has been determined. Both partners in a marriage are automatically presumed to be parents, but unmarried parents must jump through a few legal hoops to show parentage.

If you are concerned about getting or paying child support, Spodek Law Group will assist you in navigating the legal process.

Get in touch with us immediately for more information!



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