Attention:Our firm remains operational offering remote teleconferencing for consultations and appointments via phone and/or Skype for those who are concerned about in-person meetings. We will be offering a free 1/2 hour telephone consultation during this time. If you are an existing client with a court appearance, we are closely monitoring the court system to determine what protocol is being taken. We will notify you of any changes to your upcoming court appearances as information comes in from the Superior Courts. We will continue to offer quality service during this time.

Establishing Paternity in California

In California, Section 7540 of the Family Code states that a child of a wife living with her husband at the time of conception (unless he is impotent or sterile) is considered to be the husband’s child. However, a blood test (or any other legally accepted genetic testing) of the child to determine if the husband is/is not the father, can be used to determine actual paternity – but only during the child’s first two years of life.

The Code (in Section 7541) provides other ways for a person to establish paternity including:

  • Proof of legal adoption;

  • The mother and father were married to each other and the child was born during the marriage;

  • The person (married to the mother or not) consents to be named on the child’s birth certificate; or

  • The person establishes paternity by signing a legal document entitled, “Declaration of Paternity.”(This document may be signed at the time of the child’s birth or later in the child’s life.)

    Note: There are exceptions to these statutes including instances involving rape/involuntary rape at the time of conception.

But what if the child’s parents are not married at conception and/or birth, or the alleged parent disputes paternity? How is paternity established then?

Paternity can be established in a court proceeding without the alleged father’s assistance:

  • Either by default if the alleged father does not respond to a court hearing notice or the actual hearing to determine paternity; or

  • By court-ordered genetic testing to determine paternity.

The issue of paternity may seem like a simple legal matter, but it can be quite complicated. It is always in the best interests of any potential parent in a paternity case to get legal assistance either through a certified family law specialist or the local Department of Child Support Services.