a Page About Parentage Actions in the State of California!

Okay, so what is Parentage?

Paternity or maternity means the establishing of a parent-child relationships between a parent and a child. In certain cases a presumption applies for example, where the parent are married and a baby is born to them while they are married. No further legal action is required.

Legal Action! What is this For?

A conclusive presumption is set forth in FC 7540 of the Family Code and sets forth a rule that except as provided in Section 7541, 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.

A Presumption! What's That?

It is true that even if the child is biologically the child of a third person, that the couple will still be presumed the parents of the child if the biological parent does not take action under FC 7541. In certain cases a presumption might not apply and establishing the parent-child relationship is necessary - this is true especially to allow for the exercising of custodial rights or the payment of support

Knowledge of family medical history is often necessary for correct medical diagnosis and treatment. Additionally, knowing one's father is important to a child's development.

Can you Rebut the Absolute Presumption?

The California Family Code states that the legislature has an interest in establishing paternity for all children and establishing paternity is a step towards a child support award, which, in turn, provides children with equal rights and access to benefits, including, but not limited to, social security, health insurance, survivors' benefits, military benefits, and inheritance rights. Knowledge of family medical history is often necessary for correct medical diagnosis and treatment. Additionally, knowing one's father is important to a child's development.

It is possible to rebut the general presumption set forth in FC 7540, above. If the court finds that the conclusions of all the experts, as disclosed by the evidence based on blood tests that the husband is not the father of the child, the question of paternity of the husband shall be resolved accordingly. Generally, the Request for blood tests under this section may be filed not later than two years from the child's date of birth.

The factors that guide courts on issues of custody and support in marriage cases are the same in parentage cases. What is written about custody and support elsewhere on this site applies here too. The Uniform Parentage Act applies to children is also used to establish rights for intended parents that use a surrogate. FC 7606 provides: 7606. As used in this part, the following definitions shall apply: (a) 'Assisted reproduction' means conception by any means other than sexual intercourse. (b) 'Assisted reproduction agreement' means a written contract that includes a person who intends to be the legal parent of a child or children born through assisted reproduction and that defines the terms of the relationship between the parties to the contract.'

The single most common application of the Uniform Parentage Act is the establishing of a parental relationship for support purposes. A parent who wishes to receive welfare typically assigns her right to support to the County, and in turn the Department of Child Support Services pursues the parent for reimbursement purposes. It follows that the court must adjudge the parentage issue at least prior or consecutively to the support order.

As far as custody rights go, FC 7604 states that a court may order pendente lite relief consisting of a custody or visitation order pursuant to Part 2 (commencing with Section 3020) of Division 8, if the court finds both of the following: (a) Based on the tests authorized by FC 7541, a parent and child relationship exists pursuant to FC 7540. (b) The custody or visitation order would be in the best interest of the child. Essentially the factors that the court will weigh are the same as in dissolution or other family cases, but the court must find that the new candidate for custody is in fact the father of the child. FC 7611 lists several presumptions when a man is presumed to be the natural father of a child: when a child is born during a marriage, the parents have attempted to marry, when the father is named on the birth certificate with his consent, and when a father receives a child into his home and openly holds out the child as his natural child. While FC 7611 refers to a 'man,' the section applies to the female gender, too. Hence a child may have two mothers. In Elisa B vs. the Superior Court of Eldorado County the court stated, 'Though most of the decisional law has focused on the definition of the presumed father, the legal principles concerning the presumed father apply equally to a woman seeking presumed mother status.' Effectively the courts can hold either of two people who agree to adopt or artificially inseminate or procreate by other means responsible for support while that parent may seek custodial rights or visitation.

Since 1995, a very common way in which to establish parentage, has been by way of Voluntary Declaration of Paternity.

The Code provides that On and after January 1, 1995, upon the event of a live birth, prior to an unmarried mother leaving any hospital, the person responsible for registering live births under Section 102405 of the Health and Safety Code shall provide to the natural mother and shall attempt to provide, at the place of birth, to the man identified by the natural mother as the natural father, a voluntary declaration of paternity together with the written materials described in Section 7572. Staff in the hospital shall witness the signatures of parents signing a voluntary declaration of paternity and shall forward the signed declaration to the Department of Child Support Services within 20 days of the date the declaration was signed. A copy of the declaration shall be made available to each of the attesting parents.

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Parentage actions may also be filed in the county in which a licensed California adoption agency maintains an office if that agency brings the action or if the father is deceased, the county in which proceedings for probate of the estate of the father of the child have been or could be commenced.

A person who has sexual intercourse or causes conception with the intent to become a legal parent by assisted reproduction in California, submits to the jurisdiction of the courts here as to an action filed with respect to a child who may have been conceived by that act of intercourse or assisted reproduction. Parentage cases may be filed in the county in which the child resides or is found.

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