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Should I File a Paternity Suit

D'Cotledge Mediation
September 8, 2021

DNA testing has revolutionized the way families function. However, having a DNA test doesn't erase the many complicated factors that go into paternity actions.
If you are having difficulty establishing paternity, or if you are involved in a paternity dispute, you can turn to the law and find a resolution. Paternity law will guide your actions regarding challenges like child support and custody.
If you are in a similar situation to the one described above, keep reading to find out how you can deal with a paternity suit.

What Is a Paternity Lawsuit
To establish paternity is to determine who the legal and biological parents of a child are. In the state of California, parents can do that voluntarily or through the courts.
A birth certificate serves as evidence of a legal relationship between a father and a child. However, because there is no requirement for a father to sign off on the birth certificate, a mother may list whomever she wants.
In most cases, the legal father has a financial obligation to support his child. As part of that obligation, he also has the right to seek joint custody with the child's mother. Once a child's paternity has been established, the courts will decide custody and visitation rights.
In a paternity suit, the court will establish who the legal and biological parents of a child are.

Why You Might Want to File a Paternity Lawsuit
The obvious reasons to establish paternity are ensuring financial support for the child and custody rights for both parents. A paternity determination can have many different benefits for the child:

  • Legal documentation mentioning both parents
  • Access to health and life insurance coverage from both parents
  • Access to personal information, family medical records, and history
  • The right to receive social security benefits, if applicable
  • The right of inheritance from both parents

The Challenges of Filing a Paternity Action
In the state of California, there are two common methods of establishing paternity.
Both parents can sign a voluntary declaration of parentage or paternity, a document that can establish they are the legal parents of a child. In cases of unmarried parents, this document is used to determine the identity of the child's parents.
This declaration is just as effective and legally binding as any court order. To be effective, the signed declaration must be filed with the California Department of Child Support Service Parentage Opportunity Program.
Another option is to get a court order, either on your own or through the help of your Local Child Support Agency. Going through the court, however, is a long and arduous process.
It's important to note paternity suits can be expensive, and the price will vary depending on several factors.

How Can Mediation Help
Mediation is a family law process that can be helpful during or after a paternity action. If you and your co-parent are having trouble resolving custody and financial issues, mediation could help you sort out those issues.
If you and your child's other parent can come to a mutually agreeable settlement without involving a judge, you'll be saving yourself time, money, and the unnecessary stress of going to court. A mediator lawyer is trained to facilitate such negotiations.
In the mediation process, the circumstances of each parent are taken into consideration so you can reach a solution that is beneficial to both you and your children. In addition, this strategy can also improve communication between the two parties.  Paternity mediation makes it possible for the parents to establish legal rights and obligations on both parties. By working with a mediation lawyer, you'll be able to create an equitable custody agreement that balances the needs of both parents and children and helps keep any family conflicts from escalating.

How To Prepare for Mediation
If you choose the route of mediation, you need to prepare thoughtfully and carefully to achieve a settlement that you are satisfied with.
In most mediation sessions, each party is asked to briefly describe their perspective on the dispute and how they see the issues. You will be allowed to give your statement, but keep in mind that your spouse's lawyer may use some of the information you share in court if the negotiation fails. Review your statement with your lawyer to prevent any issues from arising.
The mediation lawyer will ask both parties questions in order to gather information. These questions help the mediator identify possible solutions that would satisfy both parties. Mediation lawyers cannot give you any legal advice or tell you what to do. It's essential that your lawyer is present for these sessions so they can review any documents before you sign them.
The purpose of mediation is to help both sides find a mutually acceptable solution, so it's important to be open to the process.

Give Paternity Mediation a Try
Although you and your ex-partner aren't romantically involved anymore, you'll always be linked as parents. The mediation process encourages the parties to look forward and develop solutions that work for both of them and their children's futures.
Mediation is a less expensive way of finding a reasonable compromise in a timely manner. Most couples find it's better to reach a voluntary agreement in mediation rather than have a judge who doesn't know them or their children render decisions for them at trial.
Mediation lawyers specialize in family cases and are dedicated to helping the participants get through the process as smoothly as possible.
Our mediation services are available to guide you in your family law matters. At D'Cotledge Mediation, we can assist you in finding an amicable solution that's in the best interest of you and your children while being cost-effective for you too. We provide comprehensive services to reach an outcome customized to your family situation. 
If you want to learn more about our services, don't hesitate to contact us via email at info@dcot-m.comor give us a call at (818) 835-3523

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