What is a Paternity Action
A paternity action is a legal proceeding to establish whether or not a specific individual is the father of a child. The purpose of a paternity action is to determine the rights and responsibilities of the father. These might include custody arrangements, child support payments, visitation rights, access to a child’s medical information, etc.
Paternity Actions in California
A baby born to a couple who is married or registered as a domestic partnership is presumed to be the child of both partners under California law. In these cases, paternity action is not necessary unless the father has reason to believe that the child is not actually his and wishes to dispute his paternity.
Usually, however, a paternity action is filed by the mother of the child in order to establish a legal father for the child. In some cases, for example, if the mother is on public assistance (welfare), the state may file a paternity action to get the father to pay child support, thereby relieving the burden of the state. Courts can order DNA tests to establish paternity for up to two years from the child’s birth.
In California, the process of establishing paternity almost always involves a DNA test and several court-ordered documents, especially if there is any disagreement as to who the father might be.
What States Require Parenting Classes
There are currently 17 states in the USA that automatically require both parents to take parenting classes when they go through a divorce, even when the divorce is uncontested and all terms agreed upon. California is not one of them. In this state it is left up to the decision of the court to decide, but many California courts still require parenting classes to be sure that both parents are capable of parenting and co-parenting following a divorce.
When Would Parenting Classes be Required in California
The most common situation in which parenting classes would be required is following a divorce. Other instances in which the courts might mandate parenting classes for one or both parents might include:
- When adopting a child
- People who wish to become foster parents
- Changes in custody agreements
- As part of a paternity action
- When one or both parents have been involved in an incident requiring intervention by the police or Child Protective Services
Many new parents choose to take parenting classes on their own without being required by the courts. Parenting classes are an excellent resource for building confidence as a parent and being certain that the child’s needs will be adequately met. Topics such as nutrition, developmental states, safety and security, and disciplinary techniques are covered in the classes, and parents report feeling better prepared and less anxious about parenting after completing them.
These classes almost always need to be attended in person, last 4 or 6 hours, and usually cost about 40 to 60 dollars. If there is a parenting class requirement, the judge will not allow visitation or custodial rights until the classes have been completed.
Contact a Paternity Lawyer
At Castro Law, our team of experienced attorneys specializes in all aspects of family law. We can answer all your questions through every phase of your family life, from “What is a paternity action?” to “How can I best plan for my descendants’ financial security?”.
Paternity actions in California are often complex. For something as important and impactful as designating a legal parent for your child, you’ll want a true professional paternity lawyer at your side. We at Castro Law have helped guide plenty of people like you through the convoluted California legal system and toward a successful resolution of your paternity action.
Give us a call today to schedule a confidential review of your case with an experienced family law attorney.