Today, families come in many shapes and sizes. Families can begin and grow before a marriage and not all mothers and fathers are meant to be together. In these cases, you may have to establish paternity to gain certain benefits for your child.

There are many reasons why you may want to establish paternity. If you are seeking child support or other benefits for your child, you will need to establish paternity before requesting any such support. If a child is born in a marriage, paternity, also called fatherhood, is assumed to be of the wife and the husband of the relationship. If born outside of a marriage, paternity needs to be established formally with the state.

You can amend the birth certificate of the child to add the father after paternity is established. Even without the alleged father’s cooperation, paternity can be established and child support ordered under certain circumstances. If the father is out of state and you are unable to communicate with him, your local child support agency can request a genetic test for the alleged father through the out of state court. If the father is willing to do so, paternity can be easily established by the father signing a Declaration of Paternity.

These can be challenged or rescinded in court, however, so if there is any doubt about the fatherhood, a genetic test can ensure there is no chance of the Declaration being challenged. You can take action to establish paternity through your local child support services agency or through the court system directly. You may need the help of an agency office or an attorney if you are unable to find or contact the father.

There are many online resources to connect you with local child support service agencies and gives you information about how to establish paternity and the benefits it will bring. Establishing paternity may pose challenges to you, but can do a lot to ensure your child grows up knowing who their parents are and being financially supported by both parents. The family law court system as well as the California Department of Child Support Services wants to see all children be provided all the benefits that are available to them however many require paternity to be established. 

Are you in the Los Angeles area and have questions about establishing paternity in the divorce process? Certified Family Law Specialist Mark H. Karney has experience handling many complex divorce issues in Los Angeles County. Attorney Mark H. Karney can work with you to establish paternity and complete your divorce case. Call our Los Angeles office at 310-564-5710; email us at or contact us through our online form to schedule your free consultation with one of Los Angeles’s premier family law attorneys.