For many Californians, the most important legal right they will exercise is paternity. Your legal rights as a parent can affect the relationship you have with your child for years to come. If you are facing a difficult co-parenting relationship or unfair orders from the family court, it is important to consult with a family law attorney about your legal rights. The custody lawyers at Miranda, Magden & Miranda are experienced in all types of paternity actions and family court matters. Learn more about establishing paternity, your legal rights as a parent, and the responsibilities that will be imposed by the family court.
A paternity action is a legal claim to establish parenting rights. In technical terms, you are suing the other parent for the right to custody. The first step in a paternity action is to prove that you are the legal parent of the child. This is can be done with a DNA test. The law also allows paternity to be presumed if the parents were married at the time the child was born, or if the mother voluntarily listed the father on the birth certificate, or in other specific circumstances. A child custody lawyer will be able to determine the right way to prove paternity in your unique case. Once paternity has been established, the court will determine your rights and responsibilities as a parent.
In the family court, child custody is considered to be two separate rights: the right to spend time with the child (physical custody) and the right to make decisions about the child’s life (legal custody). Today, most paternity cases involve some form of joint custody. It is rare for a court to determine that it is in a child’s best interest to have no contact whatsoever with a parent. Joint custody means that both parents have the right to spend time with the child on a set parenting time schedule, and both parents have a say in decisions about the child (such as education, religion, and medical procedures).
Any legal right also comes with legal responsibilities. In the case of a paternity action, either parent can be ordered to pay child support to the other. (Child support is calculated using legal guidelines that account for each parent’s income and the amount of time each parent spends with the child.) You may also be ordered to maintain health insurance coverage for the child. There are obligations that can be agreed to in a parenting plan – for example, paying for extracurricular activities or driving the child to the other parent’s house for parenting time. It is important to be prepared for these legal responsibilities before filing any paternity action.
The experienced family law attorneys at Miranda, Magden & Miranda are here to answer all your questions about paternity actions. Contact us to schedule a consultation at one of our convenient office locations in Salinas and Monterey. For years, Californians have trusted our skilled legal team to defend their parenting times, and we will fight hard for you, too.
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