Paternity Lawyers in Los Angeles, Helping Establish Parentage and Support
Taking care of children is a blessing for most people. Unfortunately, even blessings can create complex legal issues. In situations where youngsters are born out of wedlock, non-biological parents want to step up, or when paternity simply isn’t certain, things can get complicated quickly. There may be questions of who will pay child support, who are the legal parents, and whether a child’s biological father is their legal parent. Due to the intricate issues of law involved in such situations, many individuals can benefit greatly from a paternity lawyer in Los Angeles, CA.
At Kim Mediation and Law Center, we understand that parental rights and responsibilities are paramount when caring for a child. We also recognize that these issues aren’t easy to resolve without legal assistance. More importantly, we understand that not all child paternity issues have to be handled in the adversarial environment of a courtroom. If you have questions regarding parentage issues in California, contact our law firm today for a free consultation. You might just discover a simpler way to establish paternity and deal with family law issues.
What Is Paternity?
When most people hear discussion about paternity — also known as parentage — they immediately envision a daytime talkshow host reading the results of a DNA test. While this certainly is one definition of paternity, this term is much more complicated when it comes to family law. In California, establishing parentage means obtaining recognition of who a child’s legal parents are. This is necessary for issues ranging from child support to custodial disputes. Since the law focuses more on “legal parents” than “biological parents,” though, it’s possible for an individual case to establish paternity even when someone has no biological relationship.
This obviously sounds quite complex on the surface, and that’s why many people opt to seek the help of a Los Angeles paternity attorney. In reality, these cases can actually get much more complicated. For instance, did you know that it’s possible for more than two people to have legally established rights to a child? Such rights can exist concurrently, and this can complicate matters such as financial support, visitation agreements, and other important issues. Once paternity is established, however, it’s assumed that the legal parents have both rights and responsibilities involving their child.
How to Establish Paternity in California
Like the very definition of paternity, establishing parentage in California can be complex. Situations where a couple is married when a child is born typically seem straightforward. California law assumes that married individuals — or those who attempted to get married — are the legitimate parents of a child when it enters the world. This equates to automatically establishing paternity. While this certainly seems simple, what if genetic testing shows that the legal father isn’t the biological father? In such cases, the non-biological father will still have responsibilities, but this can be changed with the help of a Los Angeles paternity lawyer.
Parentage is also established legally if two individuals were registered domestic partners when a child was born on or after January 1, 2005. There are also some situations where paternity cases are decided based on assumptions. For instance, it’s often assumed that an individual is the legal parent if they got married to the mother after the child was born and either agreed to support the child or placed their name on the birth certificate. Similarly, merely treating a child as one’s own is sometimes enough to establish paternity.
There are also situations where paternity can be established by either a signed mutual agreement between parents (i.e., Voluntary Declaration of Paternity) or through the issuance of a court order. The latter often occurs after genetic testing. It should be very clear by now that there are no singular answers to establishing parentage — even when an alleged father is married to the mother at the time of a child’s birth. The fact is that every situation is unique, so seeking out the help of experienced paternity attorneys is ideal.
Why Is Establishing Paternity So Important?
Establishing parentage is about more than just having a name on a child’s birth certificate. It’s also about more than ensuring a child has parents who love them — something that can happen regardless of whether there’s legal documentation identifying individuals as legal parents. The simple fact is that paternity has a direct effect on many other legal issues that parents and their children encounter. For instance, a man who has a child outside of wedlock has zero parental rights unless they work to establish them.
In addition to establishing parental rights, paternity can also play a role in the following issues:
Access to life insurance coverage
Child support payments and other legal obligations
Access to veteran’s benefits
Access to court awards in wrongful death cases
Estate and inheritance
Access to Social Security benefits
Access to medical records
These are not minor issues. For instance, the average Social Security survivor’s benefit is around $1,500 per month. This is more than half the national median monthly wage in America. Of course, far more money is often involved when someone inherits assets or receives financial support in a wrongful death case. Of course, none of these issues may directly affect you. However, the point remains that establishing paternity — whether it’s a biological or adoptive relationship — is often in the best interest of a child.
Do I Need a Los Angeles Paternity Attorney?
California law is certainly complex, but it also has its benefits. For instance, citizens are well within their rights to represent themselves in any legal matter — whether it involves family law or dealing with felony charges. In some instances, representing oneself is perfectly acceptable. After all, it’s rare that the outcome of parking tickets or minor traffic violations will have a significant effect on your future. When it comes to issues as potentially complicated as Los Angeles paternity agreements, though, it’s in your best interest to seek legal counsel.
With a family law attorney on your side, you have a better chance of securing a positive outcome. Whether you have a lawyer obviously won’t affect genetic testing, but it can play a role in reaching child support agreements and other issues. An attorney can also handle all of the complicated legal documentation that goes into establishing paternity. Additionally, it’s possible to deal with paternity issues and other family law concerns without stepping inside a courtroom if you work with an attorney experienced in mediation and collaborative law.
No one is going to make you hire an attorney. You have every right to download legal paperwork off the internet, take the time to file appropriate documentation, and stand before a judge to make your case. And if your situation is far simpler and two parents are ready and willing to claim paternity and accept the resulting obligations, they can try to navigate the process and hopefully avoid pitfalls on their own. By scheduling a free consultation at Kim Mediation and Law Center to speak with a paternity attorney in Los Angeles, though, you’ll likely save time and money in the long run.
How to Dispute Paternity
There are instances where an individual assumed to be a child’s father may dispute paternity. This can happen in instances where infidelity is expected or when unmarried partners may be unsure who the father is. In any situation where an alleged father believes he may not be the biological parent of a child, he has the right to request genetic testing. If such testing is performed by the Department of Child Support Services, it’s typical that neither parent is charged for the test. If a court orders such a test, the parties involved may need to cover costs. It’s important to note that private or at-home testing typically will not qualify as sufficient evidence unless the court specifically requested such a process.
A Los Angeles paternity lawyer can prove invaluable during this process. They can let you know the exact legal process you’ll need to go through and what to expect. Additionally, they will be able to submit all necessary documentation with the courts. You may also want legal representation since determining that you’re not the biological father is not the same as being legally released from the responsibility to provide financial support to a child. Remember, biological parents and legal parents are not necessarily the same thing. That’s why you may need legal assistance to remove your responsibility.
If a Los Angeles paternity lawyer helps you determine that you’re not the father, this doesn’t mean you’re entitled to a refund of the child support you’ve paid in the past. However, you may be able to seek reimbursement from the legitimate biological father if he can be found and identified. This is one of the many instances when maintaining a cordial relationship with the child’s mother can prove invaluable. Not every custody or paternity case has to end up in the courtroom. The professionals at Kim Mediation and Law Center strive to help clients reach an amicable resolution without the high costs related to trial.
Contact a Paternity Lawyer in Los Angeles, CA Today
While one might expect that establishing paternity in California would be simple, this is often far from the case. Everyone has their own unique situation, and in each instance, the appropriate legal approach can vary. The important thing to remember is that parentage cases can have significant legal repercussions. Whether decisions are made inside or outside of a courtroom, there will be implications for child custody and visitation rights, financial support, and even who has a say in important decisions for a child’s life. Don’t risk your future by taking a “do-it-yourself approach” to establishing paternity.
At Kim Mediation and Law Center, you’ll work with an experienced paternity attorney who has practiced in family law for over two decades. Whether your paternity questions focus on paying child support, establishing rights, or any other issue you have concerns about, a legal professional can help you get started. In any situation, not immediately resorting to litigation can go a long way in simplifying the process for everyone involved. This is what we strive to do at Kim Mediation and Law Center. Contact us today by calling (213) 351-1000 for a free consultation with a paternity lawyer in Los Angeles who’s ready to help.