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Do I need a genetic test to establish parentage?

If you are unsure about the paternity of a child, or if you wish to enforce your rights as a parent to a child, then getting a paternity test can be in your best interests.

However, there are other ways to establish parentage in California without taking a genetic test. We examine some of these methods below. 

Getting married to the mother

If you have a child out of wedlock, but get married to the mother and agree to have your name on the child’s birth certificate, then this is a way to establish paternity. Additionally, any child born to a married couple is presumed to be the child of the mother’s husband.

Parentage by estoppel

A man who raises a child and openly acts as the child’s father establishes parentage by estoppel. This means that essentially, he is presenting himself as the child’s legal father, even if he is not the biological father. In many cases, the courts will not order a paternity test when a man establishes parentage by estoppel, as it may not be in the best interests of the child to learn that the man he or she knows to be Dad is not actually Dad.

Voluntarily signing a Declaration of Paternity

When both parents sign a paternity declaration voluntarily, they are establishing themselves as the legal parents of a child. Same-sex parents and unmarried couples who do not dispute parentage can use this as a means of establishing parentage without having to go to court.

Establishing paternity crucial for California parents

Understand that genetic testing can be crucial if a child’s paternity comes into question. It can also be necessary to undergo this testing if a man disputes paternity or if he wishes to be recognized as the parent in order to secure parental rights.

Whatever method you may decide to pursue when it comes to establishing parentage, it will be crucial that you consult an attorney to ensure your rights are protected. Failure to do so can leave you exposed to custody disputes, legal battles and potential loss of a relationship with a child.

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