When unmarried California couples have babies, the men are not automatically presumed to be the fathers. Before child support and custody orders can be issued, the paternity of the children must first be established. There are several different ways to establish paternity, and one of the frequently used methods within the family court system is DNA testing.
DNA testing is a preferred method of establishing paternity because of its very high degree of accuracy. In a DNA paternity test, a cotton swab is used to remove some epithelial cells from the inside cheeks of the alleged father and the child. The swabs are sent off to a lab for testing. If the result is positive, the man will be legally declared to be the father. A child support order may then be issued, and the man may seek to secure his legal rights to custody and visitation.
Paternity may also be established by acknowledgment. Both parents can agree that the man is the biological father of the baby. They can then file an attestation with the state, and the man can sign the birth certificate.
In some cases, unmarried fathers may refuse to acknowledge their paternity. In others, the mothers might refuse to acknowledge that the fathers are the biological parents of their children. In either of these cases, a parent may file a motion for DNA testing with the court. Experienced family law attorneys may help their clients with filing these motions to seek DNA testing. If the tests are positive, child support orders can then be issued to serve the best interests of the child. Fathers must establish their paternity as well if they want to assert their rights as fathers to visitation and custody. This can help them to build relationships with their children throughout the course of their respective lives.