Paternity Disputes Attorney in Ontario, California

Parents have legal rights and responsibilities for their children. When paternity is disputed, there’s so much at stake. Decisions made about a child’s health, education, and welfare, as well as the parent’s personal relationship with their child, are all on the line.

If you want to establish the paternity of your child, you don’t have to do it on your own. It is wise to seek sound legal advice about paternity rather than getting it from well-meaning family and friends. If you are a father who wants to have legal rights to spend time with your child, or a mother who knows her child can benefit from their father’s support, you should speak with an experienced and knowledgeable paternity attorney.

At the Law Office of Shelly Jean John, I provide legal advice to clients in paternity disputes in Ontario, Riverside, San Bernardino County, and Riverside County, California. For more than 20 years, I have offered as much time—or as little time—as parents need to navigate the emotional issues surrounding paternity.

Who Benefits from Establishing Paternity?

Establishing the legal paternity of a father can be equally important to the father, mother, and child. While the mother who delivers a child is automatically assumed to be the mother, paternity of that child must be established.

Important for the Child

Paternity is important for children who can qualify for benefits through the father, including Social Security, health insurance, and claims against the father’s estate. It may be important to know their father’s medical history. It may also be in their best interest to have a relationship with their father.

Important for the Mother

For the mother, paternity establishes the father’s legal obligation to provide financial support for the child via a child support order. It may also encourage the father to have a relationship with the child as part of a parenting plan.

Important for the Father

A father establishing paternity can have his name placed on the child’s birth certificate, seek parenting time and child support, and add dependent children to health or dental insurance. Fathers need paternity established to enjoy the legal rights of a parent.

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How Can You Establish Paternity in California?

Married couples are assumed to be the parents of a newborn child as are an unmarried couple living together as though they are married. If there is a dispute regarding paternity in California, there are two avenues to establish it: voluntary and involuntary.

Both unmarried parents can sign a Voluntary Declaration of Parentage or Paternity at the hospital when the child is born. If they do not sign it then, they can still sign the document later and have a new birth certificate issued with the father’s name added to it.

If one parent resists voluntary establishment, the process will be handled by the court, either through the local child support agency for the California Department of Child Support Services, by an adoption agency attempting to establish paternity, by either parent, or by a child petitioning the court directly.

What Can I Do When Paternity is Disputed?

Either parent, the child if over the age of 12, or the state may file a court action to establish paternity. The state’s interest is largely to recoup children’s support services paid by the state while paternity was unknown or not legally established. Neither the state nor its legal counsel represents either parent. For that reason, a parent wishing to establish paternity should consult with an experienced family law attorney in the state in which the child resides to help them navigate the legal process.

Either parent can also file a Petition to Establish Parental Relationship with the court where the child lives. There are several documents that must be filed with the court and served on the other parent throughout the process. Unless the parents agree to establish paternity during the process, there will be a trial during which evidence is presented and the court renders a decision.

Establishing paternity may require DNA testing of parents and the child, typically performed by swabbing cells from inside the mouth.

Get Help from An Experienced Attorney

Establishing paternity can positively impact the lives of mothers, fathers, and children; however, the process can be complicated and highly emotional for everyone involved. If you are a parent or child who wants to establish paternity, you may not want to navigate the process on your own. The Law Office of Shelly Jean John can help.

Paternity Attorney in Ontario, California

At the Law Office of Shelly Jean John, I can handle the entire process of establishing paternity for you, or just provide the advice you need to navigate the court process on your own. I work hard to meet the specific goals of family law clients in Ontario, Riverside, San Bernardino County, and Riverside County. I am here to help in any way that I can, which often means letting you know what steps you can handle on your own, and what steps will require the assistance of a paternity lawyer. If you are ready to begin, call my office today.