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Paternity (legally known as parentage) cases provide for the rights and responsibilities of a parent-child relationship under California law. Primarily, these involve child custody, visitation, and child support.
The process starts by confirming parentage, whether by agreement, through a DNA test, or by court order. Once established, the court can order sole or shared custody of the child and make orders for the financial support. Though child support is usually paid from one parent to another, it is considered money for the child. An attorney can help make sure the court weighs all of the relevant factors and leave nothing to chance.
Many people misunderstand the goal of child support in paternity cases. Basic child support paid by the supporting parent to the other parent is not earmarked specifically for the child’s particular activities or other needs. In large part, support is intended to balance out differences in income between the parents. It is considered unfair to the child if he/she lives a very different lifestyle with one parent as compared to the other, especially if the only difference is the incomes available to each parent. Of course, we all make decisions with our money, and the court is not going to provide much help to a parent who spends unwisely. That’s why it’s so important to have an attorney on your side who can work with the subtleties of your case so that you can obtain a fair result.
“Additional child support” is separate from basic child support, in that is applies to specific expenses related to the child, such as health insurance copays and out-of-pocket prescription medication costs, vision and dental expenses not covered by insurance, extracurricular activities, summer camps, etc. It is critical to have these expenses spelled out in the Parentage Agreement or court order to avoid waiving your rights to additional child support or defend against unsupported claims for child support.
A relatively new area of law involves multi-parent cases: children with more than two parents. California law recently allowed courts to recognize multiple parents when it is in the child’s best interest. Often including sperm or egg donors for same sex couples, where it is agreed that both biological parents and presumed parents should be involved in the child’s life, the court can bless such arrangements. Such provides for some or all of the rights and responsibilities of child custody.
Likewise, where a parent wishes to exclude someone who may have a parentage claim, the court can address those concerns in considering the child’s best interests. As such, it is important to have an experienced attorney representing you who understands the nuances of this burgeoning legal field. At the Law Offices of Stephen L. Cawelti, we carefully review the facts of your case to determine the best course of action to protect you and your child.