How to Establish Paternity in California


To establish the paternity of a child is to formally identify the legal and biological father. A person may choose to confirm paternity to obtain financial support or gain custody rights.

There are distinct advantages to establishing paternity, which include:

  • possessing legal documents that identify both parents;
  • gaining access to family history and medical records;
  • establishing health and/or life insurance coverage from both parents;
  • establishing a right to inherit from both parents;
  • establishing the right to receive Social Security or veteran’s benefits; and/or
  • establishing the right for the father to sign documents on behalf of the child.

Establishing Paternity When a Couple Is Married

Unless the parentage of a child is contested within the first 2 years of a child’s life, the husband of the birth mother will automatically be presumed as the father. Any child born during a marriage will be considered the child of the married couple and the husband’s name will go on the birth certificate.

If a child was conceived as the result of an affair or the husband does not believe the child to be his biologically, he can request a paternity test. If the paternity test proves the husband is not the true father of the child, he can terminate his parental rights.

Establishing Paternity When a Couple Is Not Married

If a man has been living with a woman in a stable, committed relationship and has been caring for the child, he is assumed to be the father.

If the above scenario is not relevant to your situation, there are various legal ways to establish paternity. The easiest way to do so is through voluntary establishment. To voluntarily establish paternity, the child’s parents must sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity. By signing this form, the parents acknowledge that they are the child’s true parents and accept all rights and responsibilities that go along with caring for a child.

Another way to establish paternity is through a legal paternity action. Under California law, any of the below agencies or people may request a paternity order:

  • a child’s mother;
  • a man who believes he is the father of the child;
  • a child support agency that is helping the mother; or
  • an adoption agency.

Benefits of Establishing Paternity

Perhaps the most positive benefit of establishing paternity is that the child will have both a mother and father involved in their life.

From a legal standpoint, establishing paternity allows for:

  • child support;
  • access to health insurance for the child;
  • the opportunity to build a relationship with their father through physical and legal custody; and
  • guaranteed visitation between father and child.

Protecting Your Paternal Rights

At Kraft Miles, A Law Corporation, our attorneys are adept at all issues concerning paternity actions. We will do everything in our power to resolve paternity issues in your favor.

Give us a call at (818) 462-5076 or contact us online today for your case evaluation.