Who Needs a Paternity Lawyer?

by | Mar 25, 2024 | Paternity

A man gets a woman pregnant. They’re not married. She claims that he’s the father. He freaks out, buries his head in the sand, and is left off the child’s birth certificate. And then a year later, she files a request for child support. The dad meets the child, falls in love, and now he desperately wants to be part of the child’s life… without even knowing if he’s the father.

Happens all the time. So now what does he do? Ideally he’d work with a paternity lawyer. If not, he’ll have to file a paternity petition with the court (with no idea how to do this) and hope that a judge will accept the petition and issue a court order for a DNA paternity test to determine if he’s the father. And the test, by the way, is truly determinative, almost 100% accurate. What’s heartbreaking is he could have done this long ago, right when the mother claimed he was the father, and been a part of that child’s life from that moment on. In fact, he could have done the DNA analysis when the mom was just 7 weeks pregnant and he would have known conclusively in as little as 3 days, and he could have been at the hospital for his child’s birth and been registered as the child’s father on the birth certificate.

Is a paternity attorney the same thing as a fathers’ rights lawyer?

Yes. And for the record, in the many years I’ve been practicing family law, I have not met one father who doesn’t want to be a part of his child’s life. As soon as they meet, he looks in those beautiful eyes, and it’s over. And make no mistake, there’s never been a better time to be a dad in California.

How do paternity lawyers look after fathers’ rights?

The state of California looks after fathers’ rights for fathers as well as for fathers’ rights lawyers. When I was first practicing law, men’s parental rights weren’t nearly as robust as they are now. Today, custody is presumed to be shared 50/50. Men are often shocked by that, but that’s what they should expect. And unless there are other issues, that’s what they should get. In California, the parent who is more willing to share custody with the other parent and most willing to foster a relationship between that parent and the child is the parent that is considered most appropriate to have custody.

Similarly, divorcing mothers who unjustifiably endeavor to keep their children from seeing their biological father are not only harming their children, they’re harming their own ability to be perceived as a fit parent.

As a San Mateo paternity attorney, I counsel divorcing moms and dads all the time to drop their end of the rope, cooperate with their ex, and make their children happy.

Why? What do paternity rights attorneys and the state of California know that parents don’t know?

Study after study indicates that children of divorced parents and broken families don’t do as well in life as children whose parents stay together. The law is written to reflect that and reward behavior that’s healthy for the most vulnerable – the children. Peaceful cooperation and equal time with both parents has been shown to help children recover from the emotional devastation of a family breaking up.

Best advice from a Laughlin Legal paternity attorney?

Men/dads, get your head out of the sand and be a part of the adventure. You brought a child into the world, and that child needs you. And it’s not just about you, you have your parents – who have a very similar experience when they first look in those beautiful eyes – to think of, too!

At the very least, find out right away if you’re the father. If you are, I highly advise being at the hospital and making sure your name is on that birth certificate, and that you prove to any naysayers that you deserve that privilege along with your 50% custody.

And women/moms, in response to the many times I’ve heard “he’s never given them a bath, he doesn’t know what they eat for breakfast, I do everything,” allow me to request a little faith and optimism: just because you’ve been the primary care giver doesn’t mean that the other parent can’t step up to the plate. Men can learn to take care of their children just as we did!

Are you looking for a paternity lawyer?

If you or someone you love needs to find out if they’re the father of a child, learn more about how an experienced paternity lawyer can best represent you and your values. Call us now at 650-389-9344 to schedule a consultation with us. If you’d prefer, you can email us to set up your appointment. If we miss your call, we will respond promptly and call you back as soon as possible.

Laughlin Legal Family Law Group
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