Establishing Parentage

What exactly does it mean to establish parentage? A Parentage case is also called a paternity case. The California Court explains establishing parentage as “obtaining a court order or signing an official declaration of parentage or paternity that says who the legal parents of a child are.” If the parents of a child are not married at the time of the child’s birth, then the child does not legally have a father until parentage is established. This means that even if the father biologically proves that the child is his biologically, he does not legally have any rights or responsibilities until parentage is established. This is also applicable to same-sex couples if one or both parents did not give birth to the child. The purpose of establishing parentage is to prove to the court that the parent is committed to the child, and will remain committed and be responsible for the child.

Once parentage has been established and either the mother, father, or both have been deemed responsible for the child, the California Court affirms that:

  • The responsible party can petition the court for custody and visitation (parenting time) orders to legally spend time with their child.
  • The responsible party is also obligated to provide child support and is required to cover half of the uninsured health-care expenses for the children, as well as half of the child-care costs that arise due to the custodial parent's employment or education.

Once a person is legally established as a parent of a child, he or she MUST financially support the child. Establishing parentage is important for both parents involved, but it is equally important to the child. Establishing parentage provides the child with legal rights and privileges such as:

  • Financial support from both parents;
  • Legal documentation identifying both parents;
  • Inclusion of both parents' names on the child’s birth certificate;
  • Access to family medical records and history;
  • Health and life insurance coverage from either parent;
  • The right to inherit from either parent; and
  • The right to receive social security and veteran’s benefits, if available.

The court also states that “once parentage is established, the court can make orders for child support, health insurance, child custody, visitation, name change, and reimbursement of pregnancy and birth expenses.”

If you have questions about establishing parentage, contact Morales Law, P.C. at (805)-422-7966 or at THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. We are Santa Barbara Divorce Lawyers. Factual circumstances will vary and require specific procedures. This is for informational purposes only and should not be relied on prior to, or in place of, consulting with legal counsel.