Paternity
Single parents’ and fathers’ Rights

Do you have a child but you were never married to the other parent? If so, you belong to the emerging majority.
More than half of births to American women under 30 are outside of marriage.

There are three primary legal issues facing unmarried parents:

Child custody and child support are discussed elsewhere on this website.

In order to get orders for child custody and for child support, it is necessary to establish paternity. Here is where the law distinguishes between married and unmarried parents. If the mother is married, there is a legal presumption that her husband is the father of the child. In California, the husband has two years from the child’s birth to challenge paternity by requesting a court order for a paternity test. If the parents are unmarried, there is no presumption of paternity. But if the parents marry after the birth of the child, the father can become a presumed father if certain conditions are met.

The unmarried mother can prove she is the mother with a birth certificate. However, an unmarried father who is named on the birth certificate is not a presumed father under California law. Even if the father signs a declaration of paternity at the hospital when the child is born, he cannot get orders for custody or visitation without first obtaining a Judgment Establishing Parental Relationship. This requires a court proceeding. Confusing? Nancy Stassinopoulos, a Certified Family Law Specialist with more than 35 years of experience, can clear up the confusion and assist you with the unique legal problems that confront unmarried parents.