Unmarried Fathers – Should You Sign the Birth Certificate?
Leucadia, CA – When a child is born, California law automatically assumes that the man who is married to the mother at the time of birth is the child’s father. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40.2 percent of all births in the USA are by unmarried women.
If a child is born to a mother who is unmarried at the time of birth, California law assumes there is no presumed father unless specific documentation is signed to either acknowledge or establish parentage.
The father of the child has the option of signing a Declaration of Paternity document that legally acknowledges him as the father. Alternatively, the child’s mother has the option of commencing proceedings to establish parentage.
As an unmarried man, the question of whether to sign the child’s birth certificate or not can be complex. If you voluntarily declare parentage by signing a Declaration of Paternity, the state of California considers that you are responsible for the health and welfare of the child.
If you do not reside with the child’s mother, you may be required to make child support payments and pay for health insurance. The child may also legally inherit from your estate in the event of your demise. Many men who voluntarily declare parentage may wish to maintain a relationship with the child, which could require applying for visitation rights or arranging for partial custody through the court.
However, there are cases where men have chosen to sign a birth certificate and declare that they are the child’s father, only to learn at a later date that they are not. Discovering that you are not the biological father of a child you have willingly supported and helped to raise can be devastating.
From a legal perspective, it can be challenging to get an acknowledgment of parentage reversed. If you have already signed a Declaration of Paternity, the court must decide whether you’re able to rescind your declaration. The court may also decide that you must continue making child support payments, even if you have DNA evidence that you are not biologically related to the child, simply on the strength of your voluntary Declaration of Paternity.
For many unmarried men, the option of waiting until DNA tests can be conducted may prove prudent. DNA test results can verify whether you are the child’s biological father, at which point you are in a position to go ahead and acknowledge parentage.
You can then elect to have a birth certificate re-issued with your name added to it as the child’s legal father.
Paternity can be a complicated issue, especially for unmarried men. Rather than gamble with your child’s or your own future, discuss what options are available with a family law attorney first.
If you’re an unmarried father with concerns about signing a birth certificate, take some time to email and schedule a free consultation with a family law attorney. Alternatively, you can call (858) 345-1720 in San Marcos or (858) 345-1720 in San Diego
About Us: The family law attorneys at Griffith, Young, and Lass provide experienced, professional legal care for clients in Leucadia, Rancho Santa Fe, Vista, San Marcos, Oceanside, La Jolla, and many other areas across Southern California. We aim to provide you with the expert counsel you need to achieve a desirable outcome for your case.
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