Former LA Clippers star Blake Griffin may be diverting some of his attention from the basketball court to a California family law court in the near future. Griffin is currently embroiled in a legal dispute with his former fiancee over the custody of their two children. Since Griffin and his ex were not married when they had their children, Griffin has petitioned the court to establish paternity.

Why Establish Paternity?

Legally establishing paternity will affect two primary areas of a family law matter: custody and child support.

Child Custody

First, when the court legally acknowledges that Griffin is the children’s father he will be allowed to assert his rights as a parent. In California, both the mother and father (or both parents in the case of same-sex parents) are granted equal parental rights. In fact, California actually prefers to award joint custody to both parents whenever possible. Without establishing paternity, Griffin may lose out on having the physical custody of his children and/or the ability to make important decisions in his children’s lives.

Child Support

As a legal parent, Griffin will be legally responsible for taking care of his kids. This includes the requirement to provide for his children financially. If parents are together and/or married, children benefit from shared resources. It doesn’t matter if one parent earns more than the other or if one parent has no income, at all. Kids benefit without having to worry about which specific parent will pay the bills. When parents split, separate, or get a divorce, it can be difficult to allocate financial responsibilities. What happens when one parent (like Griffin) earns considerably more than the other parent? In these situations, the parent with the higher income will be generally shoulder more of the financial burden for the kids.

So, establishing paternity gives Griffin the right to exercise his legal rights as a parent, but also makes him responsible for child support payments. Without establishing paternity, Griffin’s fiance is not legally entitled to collect child support payments for their children.

How is Voluntary Paternity Established?

In California, married spouses who live together and have a child are presumed to be the legal parents of that child. Issues can arise, like in Blake Griffin’s case, when parents are unmarried and do not live together. In order to establish paternity, a father must petition the court to recognize him as a parent.

A father who wants to establish paternity can file what is known as a “voluntary declaration.” When a father completes and submits this form to the court, he is taking proactive measures to acknowledge that he is the lawful parent of a child. The voluntary declaration includes two separate statements, one from the mother and one from the father. The mother’s statement must acknowledge that the petitioner is the only possible father of the child and that she agrees to establish paternity. The father’s statement must acknowledge that he is the biological father of the child and that he agrees to assume all of the legal duties of a father.  The declaration will only be accepted if it contains these signed statements and:

  1. The mother’s name and signature,
  2. The father’s name and signature,
  3. The child’s name and date of birth, and
  4. The name and signature of a witness.

In most cases, unless the paternity is challenged, the petitioner will be acknowledged as the lawful father of his child.

Los Angeles Paternity Lawyers

If you would like to know more about establishing paternity in California do not hesitate to call the family law attorneys at Fernandez & Karney. Our Certified Family Law Specialists have more than 50 years of combined legal experience and can help to get you the results you want in your family law matter. Establishing paternity can be incredibly important for the welfare of your kids, so do not hesitate to call us today for help. We offer a free consultation, so you have the ability to learn about your options without committing to a legal plan of action.