Long Beach Paternity Lawyer

Posted By admin, On July 24, 2020

Paternity Can be A Complicated Matter

From the era of controversial daytime talk shows the idea became entrenched in the minds of the general public that a DNA blood test is the only necessary step towards establishing whether a man is the father of a child.  In reality, legal paternity can be a rather complicated matter.  The DNA test is indeed an important factor.  Nevertheless, as far as the genetic testing is concerned, it needs to fit established criteria to be deemed conclusive or be admissible as evidence in a paternity case in court.  Sure, you can probably get tested in a mobile DNA testing unit on any New York City street corners.  They could probably test you and provide you a result for under three hundred dollars, but a California Family Court judge would hesitate to believe in the validity of a paternity test performed in an RV. The usual, and certainly reasonable, expectation is that the facility that carries out a genetic test to be used as evidence in a paternity case is one that has the approval of the courts, or one that holds accreditation from state agencies designated by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

The reality is that legal cases concerning paternity can be very complex indeed. The presumed father of a child is under the protection of  the US Constitution.  His constitutional rights afford him the opportunity to present his side of the story on the question of his paternity to a judge in the  family court. With that being said, it is important to understand that in the state of California, when you sign your name on a voluntary paternity declaration, you become the self-designated father of the child.  Such a declaration is usually signed at the time of a child’s birth.  Basically, signing is an act that signifies a forfeiture of your right to later refute your paternity. Due to this fact, paternity legislation potentially implicates constitutional due process matters.

Filing a Petition to Have a Paternity Declaration Invalidated or Rescinded

There is a possibility that you can get a paternity declaration rescinded, as long as the request to have this done is filed within 60 days of signing the declaration. The court might very well rule to invalidate the declaration after more time has passed in some cases.  If the court is looking at the irrefutable results of a DNA test, for example, those results can be clear evidence to support ruling a paternity declaration invalid. Be that as it may, it is certainly worth stating here that family court judges are legally obligated to bring a combination of factors under consideration before entering a verdict on a paternity case.  In their choice of which one to overrule – a paternity declaration signed by the presumed father or the outcome of a genetic test – the courts will also take the best interest of the child into account.  Also, the possibility of an existing bond between the child and his or her biological father is an important factor that judges are obligated to consider.

Paternity in the Golden State: The Paternity Presumption

There are several situations under which Paternity  can be presumed according to the California Family Code: 

In California state, if a husband lives with his lawfully wedded wife, that he is the father of her children is a rebuttable presumption.  The only exception to this presumption is in situations where the husband is sterile or impotent. 

Also worth noting is the fact that, according to the Uniform Parentage Act, paternity is presumed for any child who is born within 300 days of a finalized divorce, attempted marriage, or cohabitation.

The Uniform Parentage Act covers a few more situations that trigger the presumption in favor of paternity.  In cases where the presumed father gets married to the mother after the child is born, for instance, and he permits the mother to list his name on the child’s birth certificate, then he is presumed to be the biological parent of that child.

This voluntary paternity declaration carries more weight – and inflicts more of an impact – than the presumption on its own: should the declaration be upheld, it wields the same power as a court judgment. Because of this characteristic, a voluntary paternity declaration can serve as a determining document for court orders related to child support and child custody, unless that declaration is disputed and gets rescinded by a judge.

In a discussion on the topic of the “voluntary paternity declaration” as far as the legislation is concerned, this declaration is much more than just a written statement. The obligation put forth in the California Family Code, among others, is that this voluntary paternity declaration be sufficiently documented, and it must be signed by the parents of the child before witnesses.  Staff at the hospital or birthing center or a notary public can be your witnesses to the signing. A correct voluntary declaration of paternity is completed on a form that comes from Child Support Services. 

The goal of these requirements is not that actions and statements of a parent or alleged parent can be overlooked. Indeed, the assertions of the alleged father most definitely play a critical role in establishing the parenthood presumption in the absence of any documentation. That fact notwithstanding, the California statute necessitates not only that the man who is the presumed father “holds out the child as his” to the people in his life, but that on top of that he embraces the child as a member of his household.

Genetic blood tests can be utilized to challenge the paternity presumption, provided that the test and petition happen within the statute of limitations. That fact notwithstanding, there are some circumstances under which a blood test cannot change a paternity ruling: For instance, if the child was conceived artificially, and the father consented to this procedure, he cannot later come to court with a blood test and argue that he is not the father.

Filing a Paternity Petition

Because of the reality that a paternity verdict could have such profound implications, with regards to inheritance, for example, the legislation is written to impose limits on who is able bring an action to court to obtain a parenthood declaration.  The law also details the steps such persons will be able to take to accomplish this, and at what point in time they would be able to do it.

In the Golden State, the law only provides certain individuals the right to file a lawsuit to establish (or to disprove) a parent-child relationship. In cases in which there is already a presumption in favor of fatherhood, for instance, when the child was born under legal wedlock, the only people who have the right to initiate an action for declaration of paternity are:

  • the child in question,
  • officials from an adoption agency, or
  • a potential adoptive parent at any time.

The right to bring a suit is spoken of using the term “standing.”

The Child Support Services unit also may file suit to establish the paternity of a child.

For the most part, if an individual or a public institution incurred any expenses relating to:

  • pregnancy,
  • Confinement,
  • schooling
  • support, or
  • The child’s funeral arrangements,

they may also be interested in enforcing parental obligations as part and parcel of the proceeding for the determination of the paternity. The law gives individuals the power to bring suit against concerned parties, which could indeed include the parties named in an assisted reproduction agreement.

Paternity Declaration: The Statute of Limitation

How timing is applied in the case of a paternity declaration is that a paternity lawsuit can get filed even before the child is born. The man who is alleged to be the biological father in an official judgment has a two year timeframe to request that this judgment be rescinded.

The two-year statute of limitations starts to tick off from the time when the notice of paternity is served on the alleged parent. After the two years is up, even in the event that a genetic test disproves paternity,  the court’s ruling stands. Moreover, if the ruling was made in a court in another state, the California family court must enforce it, thereby giving that judgement full faith.

California’s Jurisdiction With Regards to Paternity 

What gives the California courts the right to have jurisdiction to rule in paternity cases is whether the conception of the child was, regardless of whether it was natural or artificial, within the borders of the Golden State. Certainly, the courts can use other methods by which to establish jurisdiction, but this thought process in particular punctuates the intimate nature of the particulars that have to be disclosed during paternity proceedings. To preserve discretion, the proceedings can be conducted in a closed courtroom. 

If you have an matter connected to a paternity declaration, you should seek the services of a well informed Long Beach family law attorney who can make certain that your rights are observed whether your goal is to establish fatherhood or deny it.