Long Beach Paternity Lawyers

Posted By admin, On September 12, 2020

Paternity: A Complicated Matter

Since the era of in-your-face daytime talk shows, the idea that a DNA blood test is the only necessary step towards establishing whether a man is the father of a child was popularized.  In reality, legal paternity can be a complicated matter.  Indeed, genetic testing is an important determinant.  That said,  the genetic testing has to meet established criteria to be deemed conclusive or be admissible as evidence in a paternity case in a court of law.  You may be able to get a test done in a mobile DNA testing unit on a  street corner in New York City.  They could probably provide you a result for no more than three hundred dollars, but a California Family Court judge would be reluctant to buy a paternity test done in an RV. The normal, and certainly reasonable, expectation is that the facility that handles the genetic test to be used as evidence in a paternity case is a court-approved lab, or one that has the relevant accreditation from the state agencies designated by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

In reality, legal cases concerning paternity can be rather complex. The presumed father of a child has the protection of the US Constitution.  His constitutional rights afford him the chance to present his side of the parenting story to a judge in the family court system. That said, it is important to understand that in the state of California, when you voluntarily sign a paternity declaration, you effectively designate yourself as the father of that child.  The paternity declaration is normally signed at the time of a child’s birth.  Essentially, signing is an act that signifies a forfeiture of your right to later deny your paternity. Because of this fact, paternity legislation potentially implicates constitutional due process matters.

Petitioning to Get a Paternity Declaration Legally Invalidated or Rescinded

It is possible for you to get a paternity declaration rescinded, once the request to have this done is filed within 60 days of signing the declaration. The court may rule to invalidate the declaration after more time has passed in some scenarios.  If the court is presented with 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 definitely worth stating that family court judges are legally obligated to put a combination of factors under consideration before entering a decision on any paternity case.  In their choice of which to overrule – a paternity declaration that was signed by the presumed father or the outcome of a genetic test – the courts will additionally take the best interest of the child into account.  Also, the possibility that there exists a bond between the child and the biological father is an important factor that judges are obligated to account for.

Paternity in California: Legal Presumptions

There are a number of situations under which paternity might be legally presumed according to the California Family Code: 

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

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

The Uniform Parentage Act covers several other situations that trigger the presumption in favor of paternity.  In cases where the presumed father weds the mother after the birth of her child, for instance, and he permits the mother to put his name on the child’s birth certificate, then he is presumed to be the biological father of that child.

Voluntary paternity declarations bear more weight – and inflict more of an impact – than any presumption on its own.  If such a declaration is upheld, it wields the same authority as a court judgment. Because of this detail, a voluntary paternity declaration can be a determining document for court orders for child support and child custody, unless that declaration is legally disputed and gets rescinded by a judge.

In a discussion on the subject of the “voluntary paternity declaration”, where the legislation is concerned, this declaration is more than a simple written statement. The obligation presented in the California Family Code, among others, is that this voluntary paternity declaration be properly documented, and it needs to be signed by the parents of the child before witnesses.  Employees at the hospital or birthing center, or even a notary public can be your witnesses to the signing. A correct voluntary declaration of paternity is completed on a form that is furnished by Child Support Services. 

The aim of these requirements is not that the actions and statements of a parent or alleged parent should be overlooked. Any assertions of the alleged father must be taken into serious consideration in establishing the parenthood presumption, especially in the absence of any documentation. That fact notwithstanding, California law 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 additionally, he embraces the child as a member of his own household.

Genetic DNA tests can be brought in to challenge the paternity presumption, provided that the test and petition take place within the statute of limitations. That fact notwithstanding, there are some scenarios in which a blood test cannot change a paternity ruling: For instance, if the child was artificially conceived, and the father consented to this process, he cannot later come to court with a blood test and refute his paternity.

How to File a Paternity Petition

Because of the fact that a paternity verdict could have such far reaching implications, with regards to inheritance, for instance, the legislation is created to impose limits on who has the legal right to bring an action to court to obtain a parenthood declaration.  The law also lays out the steps such persons would need to take to accomplish this, and at what points in time they would be able to accomplish it.

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

  • the child him or herself,
  • Authorities from an adoption agency, or
  • a potential adoptive mother or father at any time.

The right to bring a suit is referred to by using the word “standing.”

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

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

  • A pregnancy,
  • Confinement,
  • Educational needs
  • Financial support, or
  • funeral arrangements for the child,

they may additionally be interested in enforcing parental obligations as a step in the proceeding for the determination of paternity. The law provides individuals the power to bring suit against any and all concerned parties, which could certainly include the parties named in an assisted reproduction agreement.

The Statute of Limitation for Paternity Declaration

The way in which timing is applied in the case of a paternity declaration is that a paternity lawsuit can be filed from before the birth of the child. The man who is alleged to be the father in an official judgment then has a two year timeframe to request that the judgment be overturned.

The two-year statute of limitations begins from the day 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. Furthermore, if the ruling was made in a court in a different state, the California family court is obligated to enforce it, thereby giving that judgement full faith.

California’s Jurisdiction Over Paternity 

What gives the California courts the right to jurisdiction in ruling on paternity cases is whether the conception of the child was, whether natural or artificial, within the state’s borders. Certainly, the courts can use other means by which to establish jurisdiction, but this thought process in particular punctuates the intimate nature of the particulars that must be disclosed during paternity proceedings. To protect privacy, the proceedings may be conducted in a closed courtroom. 

If you are dealing with a matter related to a paternity declaration, you need to seek the services of a well informed Long Beach family law attorney who can make sure that your rights are upheld whether your goal is to establish fatherhood or deny it.