Families come in many different forms these days. In many cases, the biological parents of a child are not married. However, biological parents still have rights when it comes to their children, whether or not they were ever married. At MacKenzie & Associates, our Alameda County paternity lawyers have assisted hundreds of clients in Hayward and other East Bay cities with protecting their rights and resolving paternity or parentage disputes. Whether you need to form an agreement with the other parent regarding the custody and care of a child, or you are hoping to convert an existing agreement into a court order, our family law attorneys are ready to assist you.Establishing Parentage or Paternity in California
There are three primary ways to establish parentage or paternity in California. First, both parents may sign a Declaration of Paternity. This document may be signed at the hospital following the child’s birth, which means that both parents will be placed on the child’s birth certificate. The document may be executed at a later time, which may serve as a basis for issuing a new birth certificate. If the parties do not sign the form at the hospital and choose to sign it elsewhere, it must be executed at an approved public agency. At the agency, the parents will be provided with a form and a short video to watch regarding the meaning behind a Declaration of Paternity. After the declaration is signed, the parties must file it with the California Department of Child Support Services Paternity Opportunity Program. Once it is appropriately filed, the document has the same legal weight as a court order declaring parentage for that child.
The second way to establish parentage involves contacting a local child support agency, which will then initiate an action to establish parentage for a minor. The child support agency will typically seek a child support order as part of this free process, but it does not get involved with custody and visitation matters. All local child support agencies are part of the California Department of Child Support Services, and each county has a local child support agency. The process begins by contacting the agency and requesting an appointment. This process may begin before the child is born and in some cases may involve a genetic test following the birth of the child to establish paternity. Either parent or both parents are eligible to use these services. A paternity attorney at our Alameda County firm can advise you on how to navigate this process.
The final way to establish parentage in California involves initiating a court proceeding without the assistance of a local child support agency. The ultimate goal of this process is to obtain a court order declaring parentage for the child. Either parent may open a case, and the process may also be used to establish court orders regarding child support, visitation, and custody. The case should be opened in the county where the child lives or can be found.
Navigating the legal system may seem simple at first, but obtaining a court order regarding parentage may become complicated. Although a party can proceed alone when seeking a parentage court order, it is usually a good idea to consult with an experienced attorney who can assist you with the process and who can ensure that your rights are protected at all times.Consult an Experienced Alameda County Lawyer for a Paternity Proceeding
If you are considering taking legal action to establish parentage for your child, the dedicated child custody attorneys at MacKenzie & Associates are ready to assist you. Having served hundreds of people in Hayward and other areas of the East Bay, we understand how complicated and sensitive matters involving paternity may be. We offer a free phone consultation to help you understand your legal options and how we may be able to assist you. Call our Alameda County paternity attorneys at (510) 537-7200 or contact us online to get started.