California law assumes that the man married to the mother at the time of birth is the father of the child. However, when many children are born, the parents are not married.

According to the Center for Disease Control, 40.2 percent of all births are given by unmarried women. When this occurs, there is no presumed father, unless the father signs a document acknowledging that he is the father or unless the mother or the state begins proceedings to establish parentage.

What Signing the Birth Certificate Means

If you are sure you are the father of the newborn, it is usually best to sign a voluntary Declaration of Paternity either at the hospital or later. If you sign the declaration at the hospital, your name will also go on the birth certificate. If you wait, you can have the birth certificate re-issued once the Declaration of Paternity is signed.

Once the state considers you to be the father, you will be responsible for the health and welfare of your child. You may be required to provide support payments and health insurance. As the father, the child can inherit from you and may be eligible for veterans or disability benefits through you.

You may also be eligible for visitation and custody arrangements. In addition, a court will recognize your opinions on how your child should be raised, and your child cannot be given up for adoption without your consent.

What if You Later Find Out You Are Not the Father

It is difficult to have an acknowledgment of parentage reversed. You can cancel a voluntary Declaration of Paternity within 60 days of signing it. Outside this time limit, it is up to the court to decide if a presumed father can rescind his declaration of paternity.

Thus, it may be prudent to wait until DNA tests confirm the baby’s parentage before voluntarily acknowledging paternity. Even if you have DNA proof that you are not the father, a court may not allow you to walk away from child support payments after signing a Declaration of Paternity.

Contact a San Jose Paternity Lawyer

Paternity is an important issue with far-reaching effects. Some cases present a number of complicated issues. Many people feel more comfortable handling paternity issues with the help of an attorney. An attorney can lay out your options and discuss which option may be in your best interest. Contact the San Jose, CA paternity attorney at Dominion Law Group, LLP at 408-288-5592 to learn more and to make your first appointment.


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