Establishment of Parental Rights (Paternity)

Actions for establishment of parental rights arise in a variety of circumstances where children are born during a marriage, where there is no marriage and the parents resided together or married or attempted to marry after the birth of the child and where the parents never resided together.  The Family Code provides guidelines, procedures and time limitations for establishment of parental rights in each of this circumstances.

Paternity can be established by a legal presumption when the child is born while the mother and her husband were cohabiting (Family Code 7540-7541, by a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity (Family Code section 7570-7577), by legal presumptions created by statute (Family Code section 7611) and by an action for paternity (Family Code section 7630).  Subject to statutory time limitations, in a proceeding in which paternity is a relevant fact, the court may upon its own initiative or upon a request by any person who is involved, order the mother, child and alleged father to submit to genetic tests.  If a party refuses to submit to the tests, the court may resolve the question of paternity against that party or enforce its order if the rights of others and the interest of justice so require.  A party’s refusal to submit to the test is admissible in evidence in any proceeding to determine paternity.