Parenting is one of the most difficult jobs an adult can take.  Co-parenting with another person can be just as difficult if you and other individual fail to agree or find common ground. When it comes to the paternity and support of a child, however, it is not possible to waive either party’s responsibilities to take care of the child.  A seasoned family law attorney can help you find solutions and execute actions that can help you hold another parent responsible for their role in supporting a life that they are responsible for.


Paternity refers to the legal determination of the father of the child in question.  One of the touchstones of responsibility to a child legally is the determination of paternity.  If an individual has not been proven to be the father of the child, it will be impossible to receive child support, custody determinations and the like with respect to him.  Proving paternity can be an ordeal, especially if the alleged father does not live locally.  However, if you have significant proof of paternity, the court may decide on the paternity of the child without the alleged father’s cooperation or presence.  Keep in mind that your local child support agency will only open your case for paternity after the child is born; further, some labs will perform genetic tests on children who are six months or older (and no earlier).  The alleged father can sign a declaration of paternity if he agrees that he is the child’s father, or he can take a genetic test to determine whether he is the father of the child.  

Even if it seems that a determination of paternity may be worthless due to the father’s inability to contribute financially, understand that at some point he may be able to do so.  In that event, you will be able to request a child support order without having to prove paternity later.  

On the other hand,  unwed fathers frequently want to establish paternity through a Parentage action to secure their custody rights.  Birth certificates and child support agency orders do not establish paternity for enforcement of paternal rights.

After a court has determined the paternity of the child and both parents are identified, they are both entitled to the rights and held responsible for their obligations as parents.  Among these rights and responsibilities are child support and visitation/custody.  While it may seem like the beginning of a long journey that may include various disagreements and nasty court battles, it could also be the beginning of a co-parenting journey that increases the quality of life for your child.

In order to have these matters taken care of with the utmost of professionalism and skill, you should seek an upstanding local Sonoma County family law attorney.  You need an advocate with experience who will be able to fight for your child’s rights and needs to be taken care of properly by both parents. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the office of Charles D. Stark for professional assistance today.

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