Think Babies reported 81.8% of children live in a two-parent home. For the remaining children, there may be situations where the father had to establish paternity.
Establishing paternity is an important legal step to validate the relationship between a father and his child. The state sets specific methods by which this can occur.
Voluntary Declaration of Paternity
One method to establish paternity is through a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity. The parents can complete this form at the hospital when the child is born or at a later time through the California Department of Child Support Services. Both parents sign the declaration, acknowledging the biological connection between the father and the child. The VDOP carries legal weight and can be a simple and efficient way to establish paternity.
If both parents are not in agreement about paternity, another option is to pursue a court order. Either parent can initiate this process by filing a paternity action in court. The court may then order genetic testing to determine biological parentage. Once the results confirm paternity, the court issues an order establishing the legal relationship between the father and the child.
Additionally, if the child is receiving public assistance, the local child support agency may take steps to establish paternity through a court order. This is a common occurrence when the custodial parent applies for benefits, triggering the agency to identify and locate the noncustodial parent.
Beyond legal recognition, establishing paternity grants the child access to essential benefits, such as medical insurance, inheritance rights and Social Security benefits. It also provides the child with a sense of identity and connection to both parents. Establishing paternity benefits both the child and the parents involved.