Law Office of Stephen W. Penn and Associates

The benefits of establishing parentage in California

When you had your child, you were young and nervous about signing the birth certificate, so you never claimed custody. After years with the mother of your child, you decide that you need to end your relationship, but you quickly find that you have no rights to your son or daughter.

Though you fathered your child, and you know you have the authority to make decisions regarding their welfare, California law does not recognize you as a legal parent. Under the law, you cannot make decisions about where your child lives, who visits your child or even what religion your child practices. Unless you establish parentage, you do not hold rights to your child's safety or security.

Multiple benefits exist to establishing parentage in California. Yet perhaps the most important is your declaration of rights to your child's life. To acknowledge your parentage quickly and responsibly, you want to speak with an experienced family law attorney, so that he or she can offer the best advice to obtaining custody rights after you and your partner separate.

Parentage offers you and your child benefits

According to California law, some individuals do not establish paternity to avoid paying child support. Some parents worry that acknowledging parentage means greater responsibility, and perhaps they are very young when their child is born. In any case, every parent has the opportunity to declare their parenting rights.

When you establish parentage, you receive the following responsibilities:

  • Providing financial support to your child through care or payments
  • Offering health care benefits and insurance to your child
  • Giving your child the opportunity to inherit assets from you

Yet these responsibilities come with great benefit opportunities. Some include:

  • Having your name on your child's birth certificate
  • Receiving access to family medical history
  • Obtaining the opportunity to help decide religion, school and activities
  • Receiving the ability to mark your child as a dependent to get tax breaks
  • Getting the opportunity to obtain custodial and visitation rights if you and your partner separate

An attorney can help you establish parentage by signing declaration documentation or receiving a California court order. You want to have the ability to make decisions regarding your child's well-being, and establishing parentage can offer you significant benefits.

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  • State Bar Of California | California Board Of Legal Specialization | Stephen W. Penn
  • Henry P. Collada Memorial Award 2012