Establishing Paternity in California

A Requirement for Custody, Visitation & Child Support

Are you a mother or a father who needs to establish paternity for your child? With a paternity case, the court is making an official order as to who the child’s legal father is. As a general rule, when unmarried parents welcome a child into the world, paternity must be established by the courts in order to make custody, visitation and child support orders. A Paternity action is like a divorce action for unmarried couples – it is the legal vehicle necessary to make the appropriate orders.

At Oddenino Law Group, our Los Angeles divorce lawyers have many years of combined experience, and we have been resolving paternity cases since 1982 . Whether you are looking to establish or contest paternity, you can count on our legal team to be your greatest legal advocates from start to finish.

What distinguishes us from other firms?

  • We are AV® Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®
  • Rated 10.0 Superb by Avvo
  • We are highly skilled negotiators and litigators
  • We are experienced in dealing with paternity issues
  • We are formidable advocates for our clients
  • We are fluent in Spanish and English

To establish parentage, you will either obtain a court order or you will sign an official Declaration of Paternity that states who the child’s legal parents are. When a child’s parents are not married, even if the father is the biological parent, he does not have any legal rights and responsibilities towards his child. For that reason alone, many fathers go to court to have paternity established legally in order to be able to obtain custody and visitation rights. Child support obligations will also be determined in a paternity action.

  • You must establish paternity before the court will issue orders regarding child custody, visitation, or child support. All of these can be requested during a paternity case.
  • If a man does not want to admit that he is the child’s father, the court can order that he, the mother, and child submit to genetic testing.

Once Paternity is Established

Whether you are a mother or a father, it is important to understand that once paternity is established, the father will have all of the rights and responsibilities of a parent, including:

  • He will be able to request custody and visitation orders so he can legally visit with his son or daughter.
  • He will be responsible for paying child support.
  • He will be responsible for paying for half of the child’s uninsured healthcare costs, and half of the childcare costs that result from the custodial parent working or going to school.


If a man is established as the legal father of a child, he MUST financially support his child. It is a crime for a legal mother or father to fail to support their children. Further, a legal father has the right to obtain custody or visitation rights to his child.

How to Establish Paternity

The best method for establishing paternity is by getting a court order. If there is a dispute over paternity, either parent has the right to request genetic (DNA) testing to definitively determine parentage. The DNA procedure is very simple, it merely consists of swabbing the inside of the mouth with a cotton swab in order for the DNA test to be conducted.

Contact Oddenino Law Group today!

Establishing paternity is an important legal step, and one that will affect your child’s life for many years to come. For sound legal advice and strong legal advocacy, contact Oddenino Law Group to schedule your confidential consultation!