Los Angeles Divorce and Family Law Attorneys
THE LAW OFFICES OF CATHLEEN E. NORTON
When the biological parents of a child(ren) are not married at the time of a child(ren)’s birth, then either parent can file an action in court to establish parentage.
Establishing parentage through the Court is a process of determining who the legal parents are of a child, and either parent may file a Petition to Establish Parental Relationship.
Why does it matter?
When a parent is the legal parent of a child, that parent may be entitled to custody and visitation with the child. Likewise, when a parent is the legal parent of a child, that party is also financial responsible for the child.
If you and the child’s mother were not married at the time of the birth, and you did not sign a Voluntary Declaration for Paternity, then you are not the legal parent of the child. Without establishing a parental relationship with the child, you do not have the legal right to see the child, or make decisions about the child’s health, safety, and welfare.
If you are the legal parent of a child, you have certain rights and responsibilities with regard to the child. You may ask the court to determine your legal and physical custody rights. The other parent may demand that you pay child support. Court orders for custody and child support can are made after a court establishes the parentage of the child.
THERE IS NO LEGAL OBLIGATION TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT FROM ONE PARENT TO THE OTHER UNLESS THERE IS A COURT ORDER.
You may want to seek the assistance of counsel if:
- You are the mother of the child and the father does not want to pay child support
- You are the father of the child and the mother is refusing to allow you to visit with your child or is making decisions without consulting with you
- It is unclear who the biological father is. If there is a dispute about parentage, then the court can order genetic testing to determine who the biological parents are.