How to establish parentage in California
What is an action for "Paternity or Parentage"?
An action filed under the Uniform Parentage Act is called a "paternity" case. The goal of a paternity case is to establish whether a person is or is not a natural parent of a child and, if parentage is established, to determine how the child will be parented and who should help pay for the support of the child.
When may an action for Paternity be brought in California under the Uniform Parentage Act?
If any of the children was conceived in California or any of the presumed or alleged fathers reside in California then you may proceed under the UPA and all proceedings take place in the California courts.
Where may an action for Paternity be filed in the State of California
An action brought under the California Uniform Parentage Act may be brought in the county in which the child resides, the mother resides, or the alleged father resides or is found or, if the father is deceased, in which proceedings for probate of his estate have been or could be commenced.
Who may bring an action or parentage?
A child, or guardian ad litem of the child, the child's natural mother, whether married or unmarried at the time the child was conceived, or her personal representative or parent if the mother has died; or a man alleged or alleging himself to be the natural father, or his personal representative or parent if the father has died; or a presumed father as defined in the Act, or his personal representative or parent if the presumed father has died; or the child support enforcement agency, may bring an action for the purpose of declaring the existence or nonexistence of the father and child relationship.
Who represents the interests of the child(ren)?
The child may, if under the age of 12 years, and shall if 12 years of age or older, be made a party to the action. The child shall be represented by a guardian ad litem appointed by the court. The guardian ad litem need not be represented by counsel if the guardian ad litem is a relative of the child.
Are there time limits to the filing of an action to establish parentage?
a. A child, the child's natural mother, or a man presumed to be the child's father may bring an action as follows:
(1) At any time for the purpose of declaring the existence of the father and child relationship presumed under Section 7611.
(2) For the purpose of declaring the nonexistence of the father and child relationship presumed under subdivision Section 7611 only if the action is brought within a reasonable time after obtaining knowledge of relevant facts. b. Any interested party may bring an action at any time for the purpose of determining the existence or nonexistence of the father and child relationship presumed under subdivision (d) of Section 7611.
c. An action to determine the existence of the father and child relationship with respect to a child who has no presumed father under Section 7611 or whose presumed father is deceased may be brought by the child or personal representative of the child, the Department of Child Support Services, the mother or the personal representative or a parent of the mother if the mother has died or is a minor, a man alleged or alleging himself to be the father, or the personal representative or a parent of the alleged father if the alleged father has died or is a minor.
d. A man not a presumed father may bring an action for the purpose of declaring that he is the natural father of a child having a presumed father under Section 7611, if the mother relinquishes for, consents to, or proposes to relinquish for or consent to, the adoption of the child. An action under this section shall be brought within 30 days after (1) the man is served as prescribed in Section 7666 with a notice that he is or could be the father of the child or (2) the birth of the child, whichever is later.
What are the jurisdictional prerequisites to filing an action for parentage in the California courts?
The jurisdiction of the California Family Court is very broad. Basically, A person who resides in the State of California or has sexual intercourse in the State of California thereby submits to the jurisdiction of the courts of the State of California as to an action for paternity brought under this chapter with respect to a child who may have been conceived by that act of intercourse.
Under what circumstances are certain individuals "presumed" to be the father of the minor child(ren)?
With the following exceptions, the child of a wife cohabiting with her husband, who is not impotent or sterile, is conclusively presumed to be a child of the marriage, except:
(a) If the court finds that the conclusions of all the experts, as disclosed by the evidence based on blood tests performed pursuant to the Uniform Act on Blood Tests to Determine Paternity (Section 7550), are that the husband is not the father of the child, the question of paternity of the husband shall be resolved accordingly.
(b) The notice of motion for blood tests under this section may be filed not later than two years from the child's date of birth by the husband, or for the purposes of establishing paternity by the presumed father or the child through or by the child's guardian.
c) The notice of motion for blood tests under this section may be filed by the mother of the child not later than two years from the child's date of birth if the child's biological father has filed an affidavit with the court acknowledging paternity of the child.
(d) The notice of motion for blood tests pursuant to this section shall be supported by a declaration under oath submitted by the moving party stating the factual basis for placing the issue of paternity before the court.
If an action to determine parentage is filed, can the Petitioner and custodial parent receive court ordered support prior to the actual determination of parentage? Yes, in all contested paternity actions where a presumption of paternity as defined in sections 7611 through 7614 exists, upon motion by a party, the court may order temporary support for the child pending a judicial determination of parentage.
Will the parties be required to submit to genetic testing? The court may, and upon request of a party, shall, require the child, mother, or alleged father to submit to genetic tests, including blood tests. If the requesting party is the mother or the alleged father, the court shall require that the request be made pursuant to a sworn statement. The sworn statement made by the party must either: (1) Allege paternity setting forth facts establishing a reasonable possibility of the requisite sexual contact between the parties; or (2) Deny paternity setting forth facts establishing a reasonable possibility of the non-existence of sexual contact between the parties.
Who performs the genetic tests? The laboratory performing the testing shall be one approved by an accreditation body designated by the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services.
If a man is determined to be the father of the child(ren), is he obligated to support the child? He would then have the same duty to support the minor child as he would and child he fathered where the issue of parentage was not raised.
If an action to determine parentage is filed and it is determined that a certain individual is the father of the minor child(ren) and that determination contradicts the child's birth certificate will the birth certificate be changed? Yes, upon the order of a court in California, or any other state, a new birth certificate will be issued reflecting the father as established in the court order.
Can this procedure be used to establish the mother - child relationship? Yes, any interested party may bring an action to determine the existence or nonexistence of a mother and child relationship.
The process for determining parentage in the State of California begins with the filing of the Petition. The Respondent is then served with a copy of the Petition and a Summons. The Summons informs the Respondent of the action and informs the Respondent of their duty to respond to the action. Generally, the Court will order a Pretrial Hearing after service of process. This Pretrial Hearing is generally informal and the public is barred. the judge conducting the hearing will evaluate the probability of determining the existence or nonexistence of the father and child relationship in a trial and whether a judicial declaration of the relationship would be in the best interest of the child. On the basis of the evaluation, an appropriate recommendation for settlement shall be made to the parties, which may include any of the following: (1) That the action be dismissed with or without prejudice; (2) That the matter be compromised by an agreement among the alleged father, the mother, and the child; (3) That the alleged father voluntarily acknowledge his paternity of the child.
If a party refuses to accept one of the above recommendations and genetic tests, including blood tests have not been taken, the court shall require the parties to submit to genetic tests, if practicable. Thereafter the judge shall make an appropriate final recommendation. If a party refuses to accept the final recommendation, the action shall be set for trial.
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