Orange County Paternity Lawyers

Posted By admin, On August 28, 2020

Paternity Can be A Complicated Question

From the era of shocking daytime talk shows, came the idea that a DNA blood test is the only necessary step for establishing if a man is the father of a child.  DNA testing is indeed important.  That said, as far as genetic testing is concerned, it must fit established criteria to be considered conclusive or be admissible as evidence of paternity in court.  Yes, you can probably get a test in a mobile DNA van on a New York street corner.  They could test you and provide a result for less than three hundred dollars, but a California Family Court judge would question the validity of a paternity test done in trailer. The customary expectation is that the location that carries out a genetic test to be used as evidence in a court of law is one that is approved by the courts or is accredited by state agencies designated by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

The rights of the presumed father of a child are protected by the US Constitution.  His constitutional rights allow him the opportunity to present his case on the question of his paternity to a judge in family court. It is important to note that in the state of California, when you sign a voluntary paternity declaration, you become the self-designated father of a child.  Essentially, signing is an act that signifies your forfeiture of any right to later dispute your paternity. Because of this, paternity legislation potentially implicates constitutional due process matters.

Filing a Petition for a Paternity Declaration to be Invalidated or Rescinded

You could have a paternity declaration rescinded, once the request to have this done is filed within 60 days of signing. A court may rule to invalidate the declaration after more time has passed in some situations.  If the court is examining the irrefutable results of a DNA test, for example, this is clear evidence to support ruling a paternity declaration invalid. Nonetheless, it is definitely worth stating here that family court judges are legally obligated to bring a combination of factors into consideration before rendering a verdict on a paternity case.  In their choice of which should be overruled – a paternity declaration signed by the presumed father or the outcome of a genetic test – the courts will also think about the best interest of the child.  Additionally, the possibility of an existing bond between the child and biological father is an important consideration that judges are obligated to take into account.

Paternity in the Golden State: The Paternity Presumption

There are several situations under which paternity can be presumed pursuant to the California Family Code: 

In California, if a husband resides with his lawfully wedded wife, that he is the father of that woman’s children is a rebuttable presumption.  The only exception is in scenarios where the husband is sterile or impotent. 

The Uniform Parentage Act encompasses several situations that trigger a presumption in favor of paternity.  In cases where the presumed father marries the mother after the child is born and permits the mother to name him on the child’s birth certificate, he is presumed to be the biological parent.

This voluntary paternity declaration holds more weight – and has a greater impact – than the presumption by itself: if the declaration is upheld, it carries the same authority as a court judgment. Due to this characteristic, a voluntary paternity declaration can act as a determining document for court orders connected to child support and custody, unless said declaration is disputed and subsequently rescinded by a judge.

On the subject of the “voluntary paternity declaration” as far as the legislation states, the declaration is much more than a simple written statement. The obligation in the California Family Code, among others, is that this voluntary paternity declaration be properly documented, and it must be signed by the parents of the child with witnesses present.  Hospital or birthing center staff can witness the signing. A proper voluntary declaration of paternity is completed on a form that is provided by Child Support Services. 

A genetic blood test can be used to challenge the paternity presumption, provided that the test and petition take place within the statute of limitations. That fact notwithstanding, there are some situations in which a blood test cannot alter a paternity ruling.

Filing a Paternity Petition

Because of the fact that a paternity verdict could have such deep implications, in determining  inheritance, for example, the legislation is crafted to impose limits on who is able to bring an action to court to get a parenthood declaration.

In the Golden State, the law only provides certain people the right to file suit to establish (or disprove) a parent-child connection. In cases in which there exists a presumption in favor of fatherhood, such as when the child was born under legal wedlock, the only ones who have the right to bring an action for declaration of paternity are:

  • the child,
  • authorities from an adoption agency, or
  • a possible adoptive parent.

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

Mostly, if an individual or a public institution bore any expenses relating to:

  • pregnancy,
  • confinement,
  • education
  • support, or
  • The child’s funeral arrangements,

they may also have an interest in enforcing parental obligations as a step in a proceeding for the determination of paternity.

The Statute of Limitation on Paternity Declaration: 

A paternity lawsuit can be filed before a child is born. Beyond that, a man who is alleged to be the biological father in an official judgment has a two year limit to request that this judgment be rescinded.

The two-year statute of limitations starts to clock from the moment a notice of paternity is served on an alleged parent. After the two years is over, even if a genetic test disproves paternity, the ruling stands. Additionally, if the ruling came from a court in another state, the California family court has to enforce it, thereby giving that judgement full faith.

California’s Jurisdiction in a Paternity 

What gives the California courts jurisdiction over a paternity case is whether the conception of the child was, whether it was natural or artificial, within the borders of the Golden State. The courts can use other ways to establish jurisdiction, but this thought process in particular punctuates the intimate nature of the details that must be disclosed during paternity proceedings. For discretion, the proceedings can be held in a closed courtroom.