Paternity Actions

Paternity Actions

In California, unmarried parents have a right to establish a legal relationship with their child. One way to do that is by filing a paternity action. In order to start a paternity action, one party must file what is known as a petition at his or her local courthouse.

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Paternity Actions – Los Angeles Paternity Attorney

The person who files the petition is known as the “petitioner.” Once filed, the petition is then served on the other person. That person is known as the “respondent” in the action. If you are filing an action and believe that you may need some help in doing so, you might want to consider hiring a skilled Los Angeles, Torrance, or South Bay family law attorney to handle the particulars in your case.

Once the respondent receives the paternity lawsuit, he or she will have 30 days to file a response with the court. This response will inform the court of the respondent’s intention to take part in the paternity case. However, if the respondent does not bother to file a response, the court will grant the petitioner a default judgment for paternity and enter it without the respondent’s participation. This means that the respondent will be deemed to be the parent of the child and will likely be required to pay child support. Your Los Angeles, Torrance, or South Bay family law attorney can help you with your response if you feel that you are unable to do this on your own.

In cases in which the respondent does file his or her response to the petition, he or she must either admit or deny at that time that he or she is the child’s parent. There are, however, times in which parents can voluntarily resolve all their issues, outside of a courtroom, through settlement discussions. If a settlement is reached, the parties can prepare a settlement agreement, which will later become the judgment, and that will be the end of the case.

If a respondent admits to being the parent, but the parties cannot resolve the remaining issues on their own, the court will proceed to make both custody and visitation orders. If the respondent says that he or she is not the child’s parent, the court will order a DNA test. If the paternity test reflects that the respondent is the parent, the court will enter a judgment for paternity; make an order for child support, custody, and visitation; and conclude the case.

Even after the case is concluded, either parent can go back to court to ask that the orders be modified. The court will determine whether there is a valid reason to modify the original paternity orders concerning child support, custody and visitation. If you believe that you would benefit from the services of a competent Los Angeles, Torrance, or South Bay family law attorney, please do not hesitate to call Daigneault Law (800) 682-7490 for a free consultation.

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