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Los Angeles paternity lawyerPaternity actions refer to a legal proceeding to establish paternity. (i.e., determine the identity of the child’s father.) These proceedings are commonly initiated as precursor to filing a child support request for order. Because paternity actions can be complicated, it is in your best interest to contact a qualified Los Angeles paternity lawyer to assist you. Berenji & Associates has experience establishing and defending against paternity actions. Call us today for a free consultation.

Establishing Paternity

There are several ways for paternity to be established. These various approaches depend on the status of parents at the time of the child’s conception and birth. If you would like more information, call family law attorney Hossein Berenji today.

Determining Paternity if Parents Were Married at Time of Conception

“Presumptive children”: Pursuant to California Family Code § 7540, the child of a wife cohabitating at the time with her husband, who is not impotent is sterile, is conclusively presumed to be a child of the marriage.

This “conclusive presumption” is subject to rebuttable through a court ordered genetic test. However, please note that the test must be requested within two years of the child’s birth (California Family Code § 7541(b).)

Determining Paternity if Parents Unmarried at Time of Conception

If the parents were not married at time of conception, the State of California adopted a process pursuant to California Family Code §7570 et seq. A hospital administrator will give the man identified as the father by the mother a voluntary declaration of paternity form. If the form is executed by the man and filed with the State Department of Child Support Services, the declaration establishes the paternity and has the same effect as a judgment of parentage issued by the court.

Court Ordered Genetic Testing To Establish Paternity

In a civil action in which paternity is a relevant fact, the court must order the alleged father to submit to genetic testing on the motion of any party. The request for genetic testing must be made within a reasonable time before the hearing, but the court has broad discretion to determine what constitutes a “reasonable” time.

The Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) states that the existence of a father-child relationship may be established via judicial action. In a parentage action, the court will most likely order DNA testing to determine the child’s paternity.

However, you must have “standing” to request a genetic testing. California Family Code § 7541 limits standing to the husband, child, mother, and a “presumed parent.” If you do not fit those categories, then the court will not order genetic testing to establish paternity. You can see the full definition of a “presumed parent” by reviewing California Family Code § 7611. Some examples of conduct that would establish the man as the presumed parent include:

  • Receiving the child into the father’s home,
  • Openly holding out the child as his or her natural child

A genetic test to establish or defeat paternity must be conducted by a court appointed expert. If not, then the test has no legal significance, regardless of the results.

Genetic Testing To Establish Paternity Ordered by Local Child Support Agency

A local child support agency providing support enforcement services may issue an order requiring genetic testing of the alleged father if paternity is relevant to the pending support action. However, the order may only be issued under the following circumstances:

  • The person alleging paternity submits a declaration under penalty of perjury containing facts that establishes the possibility of sexual conduct between mother and alleged father,
  • The person denying paternity submits a sworn declaration containing facts that establishes the possibility of the nonexistence of the requisite sexual conduct,
  • The alleged father has filed an answer in the action and requests genetic testing,
  • The mother and alleged father agree to genetic testing

Defending a Paternity Action

There are several ways you can defend against a paternity action if you think that you are not the child’s father.

If you were married and cohabitating with your wife at the time of conception, you could offer evidence that you were impotent or sterile at time of conception. If successful, then the paternity action is defeated and you will not be required to provide for the child.

Another method is by requesting genetic testing. However, please note that this request must be made within two years of the child’s birth.

Speak to Los Angeles Paternity Lawyer at Berenji & Associates

Berenji & Associates has 20 years of combined experience helping families in Los Angeles with paternity actions. Whether you’re seeking to establish paternity or fight a paternity claim, Los Angeles paternity lawyer Hossein Berenji can assist you.