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Why is paternity establishment necessary for child support?

Paternity is not usually an issue for married couples in California because, in most cases, the husband is the father of a child born to his wife. If such a couple files for divorce and the children stay with the mother, the father will have to pay child support. However, when an unmarried woman gives birth to a child, fatherhood is not automatically established. Both parents may sign a voluntary Declaration of Paternity upon or after the child's birth.

Until unmarried parents have signed the Declaration of Paternity, the child will be at a significant disadvantage. Only a mother will be recorded as the child's parent, and the child will be denied all the privileges commonly enjoyed by children born to married parents. Without establishing paternity, a child will have no right to financial support from the father; nor will he or she be eligible for the benefits of a father's health insurance.

In the event of a child developing a genetic illness or disease, the mother will have no access to the medical records of the father's family. This may deny the child appropriate treatment. Furthermore, a child who knows who both his or her parents are usually has an emotional advantage.

In order for an unmarried mother in California to file a claim for child support, paternity has to be established. If the father denies paternity, it has to be established through DNA testing. Some fathers may not willingly agree to this, and a court order will have to be issued to enforce such a test. This is where the assistance of an experienced child support attorney can be invaluable. He or she will explain the mother's and child's legal rights and provide guidance through the legal procedures for establishing paternity.

Source: childsup.ca.gov, "Paternity means fatherhood", Accessed on March 13, 2015

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Victoria S. Linder Law Office
5303 Folsom Boulevard
Sacramento, CA 95819

Phone: 916-905-4805
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