Southern California Family Law Blog

If you want to establish paternal rights to your child and you are not married to the mother when the baby is born, you will have to establish that you are the parent of the child. In California, this can be achieved by signing a voluntary declaration of paternity at the hospital when the child is born.

Paternity gives the father legal standing. Paternity must be established before the court can award the father legal rights and responsibilities, including visitation, custody, and a child support obligation. However, what happens if you fail to establish paternity at birth?

Three Ways to Establish Paternity after Birth

  1. Request a Declaration of Paternity form: You can request the form by emailing the Department of Child Support Services’ (DCSS) Paternity Opportunity Program (POP) at, or obtaining it from your county’s local child support agency, registrar of births, family law facilitator at your local superior court, or a local welfare office. You and the birth mother must sign the form at one of these agencies unless it is witnessed by a notary public. File the form with the POP.
  2. Call your local child support agency, which is part of DCSS, and ask for an appointment to open a case for parentage.
  3. File a court case in the county where your child lives or can be found. You will need to file a number of forms. To start off, these typically include Petition to Establish Parental Relationship (Form FL-200), a Summons (Uniform Parentage – Petition for Custody and Support, FL-210), and Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) (Form FL-105 or GC-120). Filing a court case is complicated and you should seek the assistance of a family law attorney to help you through this process.

5 Consequences of Failing to Establish Paternity

If you fail to establish paternity at the time of the child’s birth, there can be a number of negative consequences. These include:

  1. Loss of visitation rights to the child
  2. Loss of custody rights to the child
  3. An order to pay past due child support, half of the uninsured health care cost for the child, and half of the child care costs resulting from the custodial parent going to work or school
  4. Criminal action being taken against you for failing to pay child support
  5. Your child not being eligible to receive benefits through you from your health, disability and life insurance policies

If you have not established paternity and you are in an active child custody or divorce case, you could see your rights to your child diminished. The extent that you can restore these rights depends on your level of involvement in your child’s life after his or her birth.

Call the Family Law Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich

If you are going through a family law case and you are worried about losing parental rights to your child, you need to speak to the family law attorneys at Wallin & Klarich. Our family law attorneys are experienced in resolving issues between former or current partners and spouses. Our goal is to represent you so that the best interests of your child are served. We have been successfully representing clients in family law cases for over 30 years.

Our offices are located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville.

Call us today at (888) 749-7428 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.

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Children 14 Years Or Older Can Testify Custody And Visitation Preferences

Effective January 1, 2011, California law requires divorce courts to allow a 14-year-old child or older to testify as to custody and visitation preferences, unless the court believes that the child’s in-court testimony would not be in the child’s best interests.

California Family Code 3042(C)

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