It takes money to raise a child. You and your child’s other parent are responsible for ensuring your child’s basic financial needs are met along with the additional costs that go along with providing your child with a well-rounded childhood. If you and your child’s other parent are no longer in a relationship, this is generally achieved through child support.
However, what if you were unmarried when your child was born? What if the child’s father believes he is not the child’s biological parent? In these situations, you need to establish paternity before you pursue child support.
How to establish paternity in California
When a child is born to married parents, no extra steps need to be taken to establish paternity. By default, the husband is presumed to be the child’s father.
If you were unmarried at the time of your child’s birth, you can establish paternity in two different ways. One is through a voluntary declaration of paternity. This is a form that you and the child’s other parent sign acknowledging that the man is the child’s father.
A voluntary declaration of paternity has the strength of a court order, meaning that the father has all the legal rights and responsibilities a parent has towards their child, including the obligation to pay child support.
You can also establish paternity outside of marriage through a court order. This is often pursued when there are questions about who the child’s father is or the purported father believes he is not the child’s biological parent. The court may order a DNA test be performed to determine the child’s parentage.
You can pursue child support after establishing paternity
Establishing paternity is often the first step on the road to receiving child support. Both biological parents are required to financially support their child. Custodial parents do so by having the child in their care and noncustodial parents do so by paying child support. This ensures that the child’s needs will be met until the child is grown.