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Los Angeles Paternity Lawyer

If you are considering a paternity case, speak with a Los Angeles paternity attorney at Fernandez & Karney. We have successfully handled thousands of family law cases and will put this experience to work for you.


Certified Family Law Specialists


Over 50 years of combined experience


Experienced with complex divorce & child custody cases

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While many families are never faced with the legal challenges surrounding a paternity case, those who are typically require skilled legal assistance to protect their rights and the best interests of their child. At Fernandez & Karney, our Los Angeles paternity attorneys work with both fathers and mothers to establish legal parentage in an effort to benefit our clients and their children.

The paternity attorneys at Fernandez & Karney:

  • Have more than fifty years of combined legal experience
  • Update you in a timely and efficient manner about your case activity
  • Are committed to providing you with the personalized legal service you deserve

Let our law firm help you with your paternity case in California. Our Los Angeles paternity attorneys offer a free consultation to help explore your legal rights and options. Contact our office in Los Angeles today and let a professional answer your questions about how California’s paternity laws apply to you.

Our Los Angeles Paternity Attorneys Can Help

Due to the legal knowledge a paternity case requires, and its potential complications, it is imperative you retain an experienced paternity attorney to represent your interests. A skilled paternity attorney strategically plans and presents your case to the court in a logical, well-reasoned argument.

At Fernandez & Karney, we represent you in all aspects of your paternity case and stand beside you throughout the paternity process from start to finish. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • DNA testing
  • Establishing child support
  • Preparing a child custody and visitation plan
  • When needed, challenging paternity

Our attorneys will explain California’s paternity laws and regulations to you. We will also:

  • Schedule your blood or DNA testing
  • Prepare and submit any court documents on your behalf
  • Represent you in any paternity hearings or a trial

Your consultation at Fernandez & Karney is completely confidential. Reach out to our Los Angeles office now to take positive action in your paternity case.

Why Is It Important to Establish Paternity in Los Angeles?

Until paternity, or parentage is established, the father has no legal obligations to the mother. This includes the duty to pay child support. The father has no rights to child custody or visitation.

However, once there is a ruling as to paternity, a child support order, custody order, and visitation order may be set and enforced on either parent’s behalf.
Establishing paternity is beneficial to the child as well as the mother. Once paternity is legally determined, a child may qualify for government benefits like Social Security and has the right to inherit from their father. Knowing a child’s father can also be helpful when background medical information is needed about both sides of a child’s family.

California’s Voluntary Declaration of Paternity

Paternity suits have quite the potential for complexity. Normally, the alleged father can rely on his constitutional rights, which include an opportunity to present his case on paternity issues in court. But in California, by signing a voluntary paternity declaration, usually at the time of the child’s birth, the self-designated father effectively waives these rights. So paternity law potentially implicates constitutional due process issues.

The paternity declaration can be validly rescinded within 60 days of placing the signature on the page. The court may even set it aside at a much later point, if confronted with the results of genetic testing. However, it is worth noting, the law requires that the judges look at a multitude of factors before making a decision. When considering what to disregard – the paternity declaration or the results of the genetic testing – the courts take into account the interest of the child, or, among other things, the possibility of a relationship between the child and its biological father.


California’s Paternity Presumption

In California, if a husband lives with his wife, a rebuttable presumption exists that he is the father of her children, unless he is impotent or sterile. Specifically, under the Uniform Parentage Act, paternity is presumed if the child is born within 300 days of termination of marriage, attempted marriage, or cohabitation.

The Act contemplates other scenarios that trigger the presumption in favor of paternity.  For example, if the alleged father marries the mother after the child’s birth, and consents to be named on the child’s birth certificate, he is presumed to be the biological parent.

The voluntary paternity declaration has a stronger force – and a bigger impact – than mere presumption: If valid, it has the effect of a judgment. This means that it serves as basis for court orders regarding child support and child custody, unless successfully disputed. However, when we speak about “voluntary paternity declaration” within the meaning of the law, this is more than a mere statement.

California Family Code requires among other things, that the declaration of paternity be in writing, signed by the parents, and witnessed by the hospital staff or notarized. An acceptable declaration of paternity is made on a form, provided by Child Support Services. This is not to say that actions and statements of the parent or alleged parent are disregarded. Assertions of the alleged father certainly play a role in establishing the parenthood presumption in the absence of a written declaration. Yet California statute requires not only that the presumed father “holds out the child as his” to others, but that he also welcomes the child into his home.

Blood tests can be used to challenge the paternity presumption, but a statute of limitations applies. However, there are situations when a blood test is not an option: For instance, if the child was artificially conceived, and the father gave consent, he cannot later use a blood test to argue he is not the father.

Who Can Bring a Paternity Suit in Los Angeles?


Because paternity determination may have far reaching implications, for instance respecting inheritance, the law aims to place limits on who, how, and when can bring an action to court to get such parenthood declaration.

In California, the law only allows specific persons to bring a lawsuit to establish (or to question) a parent-child relationship. Where a presumption in favor of fatherhood exists, for example, when the child was born during marriage, the action for declaration of fatherhood can be initiated:

  • by the child itself
  • by an adoption agency
  • by a prospective adoptive parent at any time

The ability to sue is called “standing.”

Child Support Services can also initiate a paternity suit.

Generally, if an individual or a public institution furnished expenses relating to:

  • pregnancy
  • confinement
  • education
  • support
  • funeral of the child

They can also seek to enforce parental obligations directly in the proceeding for the determination of the paternity. The law gives the power to sue to interested parties, which can also include parties to an assisted reproduction agreement.

When Can a Paternity Suit Be Initiated in Los Angeles?

When it comes to the timing, a paternity lawsuit can be filed, even before the child is born. The man declared as father in an official judgment has only two years to ask such judgment be vacated.

The two-year statute of limitations starts running at the time when the notice of the paternity is served  on the alleged father. After this period ends, even if genetic testing disproves paternity, the court decision will stand. Further, if the judgment was made in a different state, California courts have to give it full faith  and enforce it.

California’s Right to Determine Paternity

What gives California courts the jurisdiction to decide paternity suits is the act of conception, whether natural or artificial, within the territory of the state. Of course, the courts have other basis for jurisdiction, but this particular rationale underscores the intimate nature of information discussed during paternity proceedings. Thankfully, the proceedings may be held in closed court.

Paternity Cases Can be Complex

Paternity issues extend well beyond a single blood test. For one, not just any test is acceptable as conclusive or admissible as evidence in court.

There may be a “mobile DNA testing facility” with fees as low as $299 roaming New York City, but a California judge would likely question the accuracy of the Winnebago’s offering. An expectation is that the laboratories performing genetic tests be court approved, or accredited with California agencies designated by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Contact Our Los Angeles Paternity Attorneys Today

If you have questions about initiating a paternity suit, the presumption of paternity, or any other paternity matter in Los Angeles, Fernandez & Karney has answers. Our paternity attorneys are experienced and ready to pursue your rights as a parent, whether these are child custody, visitation, child support or another issue.

At Fernandez & Karney, our experienced Los Angeles paternity lawyers can help with establishing paternity and child custody in paternity cases. Our law firm prides itself in providing complete and detailed information on topics that matter to you. If you need further assistance, please call us or schedule a free consultation today!


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1 Certified Family Law Specialists

2 Over 50+ years of combined experience

3 Experienced with complex divorce and child custody cases