What is a Paternity Case?

A paternity case is used to determine the legal parents of a minor child when the parties were not married at the time of the child’s birth. A paternity case may be started by a parent with the filing of the Petition to Establish Parental Relationship (Form FL-200) and other mandatory court forms. Other issues in a paternity case may include child custody, child support, health insurance, name change, and reimbursement of pregnancy and birth expenses. If the parents are unmarried, a child’s parentage must be established before the court will make child support or child custody orders. Parentage can be established through a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity, an agreement of the parties or by court order. The court has the authority to order genetic testing in disputed cases.The Los Angeles County Child Support Services Department may provide assistance in legally establishing parentage in order to obtain a court order for child support however they do not assist with obtaining court orders regarding child custody. Here’s more information about the services provided by CSSD.

Why is Establishing Parentage Important to a Child?

In addition to the emotional benefit of knowing who both of his or her parents are, the establishment of paternity provides the child with many potential legal rights and benefits. Once parentage is legally established the child is entitled to financial support from both parents, legal documentation identifying both parents, the name of both parents on the child’s birth certificate, access to family medical records, health and life insurance coverage from either parent, the right to inherit from the parent, and the right to receive social security and veteran’s benefits.

Here’s more information on Paternity.