A paternity case can be a blessing in disguise, a big problem, or a disaster. If the encounter was a “hook up,” then two people who might not be particularly suited to working together are going to be legally associated for the next 21 years. As with all aspects of family law, if the father and mother cooperate with each other, you have an ideal situation. Instead, many paternity actions are fraught with emotion and characterized by a lack of cooperation.

We generally see one of three scenarios:

  1. A father fighting to be involved in a child’s life even though he and the mother were never married.
  2. A mother seeking financial support from a child’s father in a situation in which the parents are not on good terms.
  3. A male who does not believe he is the father of the child at issue and contests the paternity claim.

No matter which of the scenarios above, there are three basic steps involved in a paternity case: establishing paternity, establishing the obligation to support the child, and enforcement of the child support order:

1. Establishing Paternity

To establish paternity in a contested case, the mother or father can file a court pleading seeking an order acknowledging that an individual is the father. Although most often filed by the mother, sometimes a father files a paternity action when the mother refuses to allow the father access to the child. The court can order an unwilling respondent in a paternity case to take a blood test to determine if he is the father.

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2. Establishing Obligation to Support the Child

If the respondent admits to being the parent, but the parties cannot resolve the issues on their own, the court will make orders for custody and visitation. If the parties cannot agree on custody, the court will have a hearing. Once custody and visitation are resolved, the parties exchange information about their incomes. The court then makes orders for child support. Those orders become the judgment and the case is concluded.

If the respondent denies that he is the parent of the child, the court will order genetic testing (a DNA test). If the paternity test proves that the respondent is the parent, the court makes an order for child support, child custody, and child visitation. In the manner set forth above, a judgment for paternity is entered and the case is concluded.

3. Enforcement of the Child Support Order

Even after the case is concluded, either parent can return to court to request the orders be changed. The court will determine whether there is a reason to modify the original paternity orders concerning child custody, child visitation, and child support. This is called a modification proceeding and usually requires a showing of a change of circumstances.

The fair amount of support that the non-custodial parent must pay is determined by state child support statutes, which provide for a fairly complicated mathematical formula that takes into account the income of the parents to determine support.

Paternity Lawyer in Los Angeles, CA

I have practiced law in Southern California for more than 25 years, and my highest priority has always been to put my clients’ needs first. I am willing to negotiate early, settle your case, and take your case all the way to court when needed. My unique approach has helped me receive top ratings from both Avvo and Martindale. If you have a paternity matter that you’d like to discuss with an attorney, reach out to me today. I will analyze the facts and apply my strong understanding of the law to obtain the best result possible for your case.