New California Paternity Laws

••• father and son image by Diane Stamatelatos from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Declaration of Paternity

Fathers can voluntarily declare paternity by signing a Declaration or Paternity form at the hospital when the child is born or later through the family court system when a mother instigates an action to determine paternity of her child. If a father voluntarily declares paternity, no genetic testing will be conducted. Laws regarding the establishment of paternity by voluntary declaration is codified in California Family Code Sections 7570-7577.

Establishing Paternity

If the mother is unsure who the father of her child is or the alleged father denies he is biologically related to the child, genetic testing can be ordered and administered through a California child support agency to determine paternity of the child. Most labs, however, will not conduct genetic testing until the child is at least 6 months old. The mother can still begin the paperwork to establish paternity before that time, including while she is still pregnant with the child. Laws regarding using blood tests to determine paternity are codified in California Family Code Sections 7550-7558.

Child Support

Once paternity is established, mothers can collect child support and receive Social Security or veterans' benefits if applicable. Prior to establishing paternity, mothers are unable to collect these funds. Mothers can, however, apply for and receive CalWORKS, a temporary financial assistance program for low income families with children, before paternity is established. Child support laws are codified in California Family Law Code Sections 4050-4076.

Domestic Partnerships

As of Jan. 1, 2005, if a child is born to registered domestic partners, California law under the Uniform Parentage Act presumes both parties are the parents of the child regardless of genetics. For example, if one domestic partner has a child through artificial insemination, both parties are considered parents even though the other partner is not genetically related to the child. The Uniform Parentage Act is codified in California Family Law Code Sections 7600-7650.

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About the Author

Lindsay Nixon has been writing since 2007. Her work has appeared in "Vegetarian Times," "Women's Health Magazine" and online for The Huffington Post. She is also a published author, lawyer and certified personal trainer. Nixon has two Bachelors of Arts in classics and communications from the College of Charleston and a Juris Doctor from the New England School of Law.

Photo Credits

  • father and son image by Diane Stamatelatos from Fotolia.com