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What Are the Benefits of Establishing Paternity in California?

Parenthood is a pivotal chapter in the story of your family's life. Paternity, specifically in California, plays a critical role in the well-being of your child and the legal rights and responsibilities of each parent. Whether you're a new father seeking to establish your role or a new mother looking to secure child support and access to medical benefits, understanding and establishing paternity is crucial.

Our family law attorneys at Bremer Whyte Brown & O'Meara are here for new parents navigating the process of establishing paternity in California. Our team can walk you through the importance of this step, explain the benefits for all involved parties, and provide you with a clear, actionable plan on how to establish paternity to ensure the security and best interests of your child.

The Benefits of Establishing Paternity in California

Establishing paternity is the legal process that identifies a child's biological father. This acknowledgment carries a multitude of benefits, such as:

  • Legal Protections: A legally recognized father can exercise child custody and visitation rights.
  • Social and Emotional Bonds: Acknowledgment of paternity supports the child's well-being and creates a path for forming a relationship with both parents.
  • Access to Medical History and Benefits: Establishing paternity enables the child to receive health-related benefits and access their father’s medical history – vital information for comprehensive healthcare.
  • Financial Support: A child has a legal right to financial support from both parents. Paternity must be established for child support to be formally arranged in California.

Legal and Emotional Benefits for the Child and Parents

The advantages of establishing paternity are far-reaching and extend to the child's welfare and the relationship between the parents:

For the Child

  • Stability and Support: Financial assistance can provide a higher standard of living for the child and bolster their emotional well-being.
  • Identity: A sense of belonging and knowing their paternal heritage is crucial for a child's self-identity.
  • Child Support and Health Benefits: Paternity is the foundation for seeking child support, health insurance benefits, and social security or veteran's benefits.

For the Parents

  • Shared Responsibility: Both parents are legally responsible for the child's financial, emotional, and social support.
  • Custody and Visitation Rights: Paternity needs to be established to engage in custodial arrangements and visitation schedules.
  • Parental Decision-Making: Legal recognition as a parent grants both parents the right to partake in the decision-making process for the child's welfare.

How to Establish Paternity in California

Establishing paternity is a complex process that includes several steps. The following are the steps you need to take to establish paternity in California.

The Voluntary Declaration of Paternity (VDP) Process

The Voluntary Declaration of Paternity (VDP) is the simplest method to establish paternity in California. Both parents must sign the VDP in front of a notary. This form is available at:

  • Hospitals and birthing centers
  • County child support agencies
  • Local registrar of births

Completing the VDP Form

Gather the Necessary Information

Before you complete the VDP form, ensure you have the required information:

  • Full legal names, Social Security numbers, and birthdates of both parents
  • The mother’s maiden name
  • Information about the child, including the date and place of birth


  • Fill out the form with accurate and up-to-date information. False data can lead to legal issues.
  • Both parents must sign the form voluntarily and in the presence of a witness or notary public.
  • Review and certify the document for any mistakes.

Filing the VDP Form

  • After completion, file the VDP form with the California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS). This could also be done at the local registrar's office.
  • Each party retains a copy of the signed, filed VDP.

What to Expect After Filing

Upon successful filing of the VDP form:

  • The father's name will appear on the child's birth certificate.
  • The DCSS will manage paternity establishment services for parents not married to each other, if necessary.

Common Misconceptions and FAQs About Paternity in California

How Long Does It Take to Establish Paternity in California?

The VDP process is immediate. Your child's birth certificate will be updated within a few weeks, and your child support case will generally be opened within 20 days of the VDP being received by the DCSS or another recognized entity.

Can Paternity Be Contested in California?

Yes, paternity can be contested. A legal action to challenge paternity must typically be brought within two years of the VDP being signed. However, there are exceptions, and it is best to consult with a family law attorney to understand your specific circumstances.

Remember, this process is about providing your child with a well-rounded life that includes the love, care, and support of both parents, and it's an important step that should not be delayed.

Schedule a Consultation with Our Experienced Paternity Attorneys Today!

To those beginning this process, while new beginnings can be overwhelming, there are resources and systems in place to support you. Our family law attorneys at Bremer Whyte Brown & O'Meara are available to guide you through the process. As our case results prove, we know how to help our clients secure the most favorable outcomes possible for their situations.

To get started, call (949) 229-8546 or contact us online today.