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Establishing paternity (strategically) is essential in California

Learn more about the right ways to determine a child's legal father under particular circumstances.
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    February 28, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Paternity is a legal determination of who the father of a child is. Establishing paternity can be very important for the mother and the child, as it is the only way to guarantee the child's right to child support from the father, access to the familial medical records on the father's side and many other important benefits.

However, establishing paternity can also be very important to the father. If paternity is not properly established, the father has no legal standing to enforce his rights as a parent, as one man found out in a recent California family law case.

Adoption of A.S. case highlights nuances of establishing paternity in California

Adoption of A.S. was a case recently decided in the Court of Appeal of the State of California. In the case, a pair of teenage biological parents living in New York -- Vincenzo C. and Molly V. -- came to a dispute over whether or not they should give their child up for adoption.

Molly, the mother, wished to give her child to a couple she found in California. Vincenzo, on the other hand, wanted to block the adoption.

Although Vincenzo established paternity through a court action in New York, he was found not to have achieved presumed father status in part because he failed to execute a California Voluntary Declaration of Paternity after the birth. The difference between establishing paternity only later through a DNA test and doing it at the time of birth through a Voluntary Declaration of paternity is subtle; to achieve presumed father status and thus the right to potentially block an adoption, a father must promptly come forward and demonstrate a full commitment to his parental responsibilities. By signing a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity, Vincenzo could have had a better argument that he should have been a presumed father rather than just a biological one.

Of course, other behavior on Vincenzo's part harmed his argument that he should have been a presumed father, and contributed to the decision that ultimately terminated his parental rights and allowed the adoption to go through. Other behavior aside, the failure to execute a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity was a critical strategic error that could have been avoided.

Talk to a California family law attorney about why and how to establish paternity

Adoption of A.S. shows that it is not only important to establish paternity, the manner in which paternity is established can be important. A Voluntary Declaration of Paternity must be signed by both unmarried parents, either at the time of the child's birth or later. In instances when one or both parents are unable or unwilling to sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity, either parent may file a court case to establish parentage.

Which option is right for you? The answer depends on your unique individual circumstances, what you ultimately want and the best legal strategy for your case. If you have questions about the legal rights of parents and children, your local California family law attorney's office is the best place to go for answers. Get in touch with a family lawyer today.

Article provided by Law Offices of Korol & Velen
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