Establish Parentage (paternity)
In California, a valid marriage is not necessary in order for a family court to make child custody and visitation (parenting schedule) orders. In fact, an unmarried individual can open a family law case that is exclusive to the issue of child custody and a family court can make child custody orders through that case. These cases are called “parentage cases” or “paternity cases.”
In a parentage case, the court must first establish who the legal parents of a child are. In some cases, this may require submitting to a genetic test (DNA test) that will determine whether an individual is the biological father of a child. However, the issue of parentage is not only limited to genetic testing. In California, the courts recognize various factors when it comes to making a parentage determination.
In some parentage cases, the court may also determine that a child has more than two (2) legal parents. This means that the court can establish that a person having no biological relationship to a child is still a “legal parent” to that child. Any person that is determined to be a legal parent of a child can request that the court issue child custody and visitation (parenting time) orders. You can click here to read more about child custody and visitation.
If the court establishes that a person is the “legal parent” of a child, then that parent is obligated to financially support the child. In California, it is a crime for a legal parent to fail to financially support their child if the court has ordered them to do so. In a parentage case, once the legal parents of a child have been established, the court may then need to establish whether a child support order is necessary. To learn more about child support, you can click here.
Please do not hesitate to contact Valenzuela & Montoya, LLP if you wish to speak with an attorney
that has experience in handling parentage (or paternity) cases in Sacramento.