Oceanside Paternity Lawyer

Oceanside Paternity Lawyer

Oceanside Paternity Attorney

There are many reasons why establishing paternity in family court might be important. Fathers have rights and responsibilities, and the courts can only enforce them after it is clear who the biological father is. Whether you are the mother or father in the case, you can rely on the services of an Oceanside paternity lawyer to guide you through the process. Many dads find that having a father’s rights attorney can help them secure valuable time with their child.

Reasons a Court May Seek to Establish Paternity

When a mother is unsure about the paternity of her child, she may seek paternity tests through the courts. Fathers similarly have the right to establish their paternity. Under California law, there are four categories for legal parentage:

  1. Biological parents (not a surrogate).
  2. Partners who were married or registered domestic partners when the child was born.
  3. Partners who filed a declaration establishing themselves as the legal parents.
  4. Judge-determined parentage.

The mother may seek to establish paternity so the child can know their father or to establish financial obligations for the father. Child support is one financial obligation that many fathers pay in the state. Children benefit from the establishment of paternity. A child may inherit benefits from their parent, such as survivor’s benefits or citizenship if the father is a US citizen.

A man who believes he is the father to a child may seek visitation and custody rights to his child. He can only do so after the courts determine that he is the father. In some cases, a father who is court-ordered to pay child support may want to confirm whether he is indeed the biological father to the child. Paternity cases can be brought by the mother, father, or someone who believes they have been falsely determined to be the father.

A Father’s Rights Need to Be Established if They Aren’t Married to the Mother

Fathers who never married the mother of their child can face challenges when it comes to claiming visitation rights. Once the child is born, the father may find that they are removed from the picture or only given minimal visitation time with their child. Until there is an establishment of who the other legal parent is, the father will have little to no recourse when it comes to enforcing his paternal rights.

One way to establish rights and responsibilities as a father is by going through the family courts with the help of an experienced family law attorney. Even when the mother is uncooperative, you can work with the courts to establish yourself as the legal parent to your child. This is often done with a genetic test. Once parentage is established, the father will be able to ask the courts to provide court-enforceable visitation and custody rights.

How the Courts Determine Parentage

One way that parentage can be determined is by signing a Voluntary Declaration of Parentage form. Both parties must voluntarily sign the form. This form is usually signed at a hospital, but it can be signed later. The declaration has the weight of a court order. Parents have a limited period of time to cancel the declaration.

The mother or father may ask the courts to determine parentage. This is often done when the child is born outside of marriage or a committed relationship. Any male who has a reasonable basis for believing they are the biological father to a child has the right to ask a judge to determine paternity. Mothers have the additional option of asking the local child support agency to establish child custody orders.

If a judge is asked to determine paternity, they may order genetic testing. Genetic testing is often one of several factors that a judge considers when establishing paternity. The courts have the authority to compel men to participate in establishing paternity. One or more men may be summoned to appear before the court. Usually, the mother is the petitioner in the matter. The petitioner could also be the child or a representative of the child.

A court petition can be used to determine who the other legal parent is. The form can also ask the courts to determine visitation and child support. The petitioner can ask the court to order the father to pay for part of the cost of delivering the child and even attorney’s fees. The respondent has 30 days to reply. Failing to reply can lead to a default judgment in favor of the petitioner.

How Child Custody Works in the State

Once a father’s parentage has been established, he will have legal standing to become a custodian of the child. The two main types of custody that both parents have are legal and physical custody. Although establishing custody orders can take time and resources, the court orders are enforceable, meaning the other parent will not be able to lawfully obstruct your future visitations with your child.

Legal Custody Defines Who Gets to Make Decisions for Children

Legal custody refers to the decision-making power of one or both parents. Only a parent with legal custody has the authority to make decisions about where their child goes to school, what medical procedures their child can undergo, what religious training they will receive, and other important aspects of child-rearing. Legal custody can be sole or joint.

When one parent has sole legal custody over a child, they ultimately make the final decisions. This does not mean that they cannot or shouldn’t consult with the other parent on important matters, though. Joint legal custody means that both parents share decision-making authority over a child.

Physical Custody

Physical custody refers to where the child lives. When one parent is given sole physical custody of a child, the child’s primary residence is with that parent. More commonly, parents are awarded joint physical custody, meaning that their children split time between both parents. Research shows that children benefit from spending meaningful time with both parents.

Determining Custody and Visitation

When both parents can agree to the terms of a parenting plan, the courts will generally honor those agreements as long as the agreement serves the interests of the child. When both parents cannot come to an agreement over custody and visitation, a judge will make a determination based on many factors.

Parents have a fundamental right to raise their children in this country, but the specifics of a visitation schedule may differ from child to child. A judge will consider the living arrangements of both parents, the child’s relationship with both parents, and other factors when determining specifics about visitation.

One reason one parent may have limited visitation rights is if they engage in child abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Even when child abuse is not an issue, a judge may consider whether one parent made an effort to establish parentage or not when deciding who receives sole or joint physical custody. Parents who exercised their parental rights from an early stage, or at least attempted to, often have better standing to enforce those rights.

Once a judge signs a child custody and visitation agreement, both parents are required to comply with those orders. Any parent who obstructs visits or fails to follow the terms of the custody agreement may find themself in contempt of court. The only way a custody determination can be changed is through a modification that requires approval by a judge.

Child Custody Modification

There are times following the establishment of parentage and visitation rights that one parent may seek to modify the terms of those orders. Modifying a court order is not easy, but it is sometimes necessary. The courts will first want to see that there has been a substantial change to the living situation of one or both parents before a judge will consider modifying an order.

One common reason that a custody order may need to be modified is if one parent has moved a considerable distance away. The new location of one parent can make following a court order difficult, if not impossible. A judge may consider modifying the visitation order to reflect the changing realities of where the other parent now lives.

Another reason that a modification may be needed is if the parent who pays child support becomes ill or disabled. When that parent is unable to work or suffers a substantial loss of income, a modification to the child support order may be needed.

When there is evidence that one parent has a history of child abuse, neglect, or abandonment, the courts may restrict visitation to the at-fault parent. In some cases, the restriction is temporary. A judge may order the parent to undergo counseling or other services. In more severe cases, a parent may lose visitation rights for a longer period of time or permanently.

No matter which reason you have for seeking a child custody modification in Oceanside, California, you can improve the chances of a favorable outcome by first hiring a family law attorney to handle your case on your behalf. The state’s family code is complicated, and an experienced family law attorney can help you reach your goals more efficiently and effectively.

FAQs

Q: When Do the Courts Not Question Paternity?

A: The courts will not question paternity when a couple is married if neither party raises questions about who their child’s father is. Another way to establish paternity is by having the father’s name on the birth certificate. The courts will work under the assumption that the listed dad on the certificate is the father unless either spouse raises questions about paternity.

Q: Are Paternity Tests Expensive?

A: A genetic test to determine paternity is relatively affordable. Paternity tests are straightforward and highly accurate. Once a case reaches the point that a paternity test is ordered, both father and child will have to submit a swab that is independently tested. The test results will satisfy the courts on the question of paternity. Anyone found not to be the biological father will not be obligated to pay child support or any other financial obligation.

Q: What Happens if I Am Found to Be the Father?

A: If paternity tests determine that you are the biological father, you will have rights and responsibilities to your child. Establishing long-term visitation may take time. If the mother fights the reunification effort, you may need to work with an attorney to resolve the conflicts. A judge may issue temporary orders that allow you to begin seeing your child soon after the paternity results are known.

Q: What Happens if the Mother Fights My Rights as a Father?

A: If the mother fights your rights as a father and paternity has not been established, you have the right to establish paternity. The process is not always easy, especially if the mother is uncooperative. You can streamline the process by hiring a family law attorney who understands the importance of establishing paternity.

Q: How Soon Do I Start Paying Child Support Once Paternity Is Established?

A: Once paternity is established and if a judge orders child support, you should expect to begin paying child support soon. Child support is handled through the state disbursement system for child support. The payments are usually withdrawn directly from wages. You may be able to pay your child support obligations online as well.

Schedule Your Family Court Paternity Consultation Today

California’s family courts only award visitation and custody rights to legal parents. If you are a father seeking visitation rights to your child or a mother seeking child support enforcement, you will need to establish paternity over the child. Fathers who are found to be the legal parent have rights and responsibilities to the child under state law.

Sometimes, fathers get the short end of the stick when it comes to visitation time with their children. If you are looking for an attorney who values the important role that both parents play in their child’s life, Paula D. Kleinman, A Professional Law Corporation, is here to help. You can establish paternity for your child after scheduling a consultation with our lawyer. We look forward to working with you.

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