951.249.7022

Temecula Paternity Lawyer

Establishing parentage in Temecula and Riverside County can be a difficult process in Riverside County family courts.  Paternity cases mean that the underlying matter is establishing a father as the biological dad of a child or children.  However, there can be many issues involved in a paternity case, including the following:

  • Child custody: In a paternity case the court will make orders for legal custody (the right to make decisions about a child’s health, safety, education and welfare) and physical custody (which parent, or both parents, physically care for a child).
  • Visitation: The court will also order visitation to one parent if there is not a joint custody situation.  The court has a wide variety of options, including supervised or unsupervised visitation and various schedules including alternating weekends, weekday visits including overnights, or another schedule.
  • Parentage: The court will order a DNA test if either party requests such a test be conducted.  Parties may agree to waive a DNA test.
  • Costs of pregnancy and childbirth: The court may order the father to share in the costs associated with bringing the child into the world.
  • Child support: The court may order either parent to pay child support to the other parent consistent with the statewide Guideline formula.
  • Childcare expenses: The court may order the parties to share in the cost of childcare expenses necessary for work or job training.
  • Medical coverage: The court may order one parent to cover children on his or her health insurance policy.  The court will also order the parents to equally share in a child’s unreimbursed healthcare expenses, such as co-pays, medications, orthodontics, etc.
  • Counseling: The court may order either or both parents, and/or a child to participate in counseling.

Paternity cases begin with the filing of form FL-200.  This form is called a “Petition to Establish a Parental Relationship.”  It is the mandatory form for all such petitions across California.  The filing fee is over $400 to file this form in the Hemet and Riverside family courts.  Along with this form, several other forms are required before the court clerk will accept the petition.  This includes the Declaration Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), which demands that a party disclose among other things: (1) the names, dates of birth, places of birth and addresses for all minor children; (2) whether any third party will claim custody rights; and (3) whether any other cases have been open relating to the child including child support cases or domestic violence matters.

Once the petition is filed, the court clerk will assign the case to one of the judges in Hemet or Riverside (depending on where you live dictates where you file).  A summons is also issued.  The documents will then be served on the opposing party, who will have 30 days to file a response or risk being “defaulted.”

Can a party file a Request for  Order for temporary custody orders?

Yes.  After a petition to establish paternity is filed, either party is allowed to file a motion with the court to provide the parties with custody orders.  If such a motion is filed, the clerk will also provide a CCRC date, which is a mediation date regarding custody that will take place before the hearing.  Riverside County is a “recommending” county, which means if the parties do not reach an agreement during mediation, the court-appointed counselor will make a written recommendation to the judge for the hearing.  The CCRC is an extremely important session, and you must be prepared.

How do I get child support in a paternity case?

The court can order child support upon request of either party.  In order to get child support, a Request for Order must be filed along with an Income and Expense Declaration.  The court will set a hearing date and will order child support.  The amount will be based on the “guideline” formula, which mostly takes into account the respective incomes of each party, how much time each parent spends caring for the child, and certain deductions.  Visit our child support page for more information.

Does the family court tend to side with mothers in paternity and custody cases in Riverside County?

The answer to this question is difficult to provide, because there are so many factors that go into determining which parent, or both, should physically care for a child.  Many of our clients ask us whether the court will in fact side with a mother over a father when all else is equal.  The reality is that sometimes the court does side with the mother.  However, sometimes the court sides with the father too.  The most important factor in determining whether it is likely or probable that the court will side with a mother over a father is the age of a child.  Studies have shown that small infants, especially when breastfeeding, tend to have a closer bond with the mother.  However, as children get older, the bond tends to even out between the parents.  The second most important factor in understanding whether the court may tend to side with a mother or father depends on the history of parenting.  The reality, perhaps unfortunately, is that parents that stay at home with children prior to parties’ splitting up, and after the parties split up, are more likely to find the court awarding “primary” custody to them.  Despite all this, the law states that family law judges are not allowed to have any bias towards a particular gender.

Will there be a trial in my paternity case?

There will be a trial in a paternity case if the parties do not agree on settlement terms.  Because trials usually take a day or more to complete, parties that do not settle should expect to finally have a trial in their case at least one year from the date the case is initially filed.

Are married persons presumed to be the parents of a child?

Yes.  Married persons who conceive a child during marriage and where the child is born within 300 days of the parties’ separation (i.e. from the date they no longer cohabitate with each other) are presumed to be the parents of the child (Fam. Code 7540).  This creates difficulties in some cases where a spouse has an affair and then produces a child.

A paternity judgment was entered against me but I know I’m not the biological father- can anything be done?

Perhaps.  The Family Code provides several options for seeking relief from a family law judgment of paternity.  The critical questions are how long ago the judgment was entered, did you receive notice of the case, did you “appear” in the case by filing a response to the petition to establish a parental relationship or appear in court for any hearings, whether you are listed on the child’s birth certificate and/or signed a voluntary declaration of paternity, and did the Riverside County family court have the initial jurisdiction to enter a judgment of paternity?  Based on the facts of the case and the time of a motion to set aside a paternity judgment, it might be possible to set it aside.  There are strict timing rules called the “statute of limitations” that prohibit the filing of a set aside motion after the time frame allowed under the Family Code has passed.  Family Code 7646 establishes those time limits, which must be within 2 years from the date the established father knew (or should have known) of a judgment establishing parentage, or within 2 years from the child’s birth if paternity was established by voluntary declaration (that is done at the hospital).

Call our lawyers today for more information specific to your case.

How do I know if the Riverside County court has jurisdiction to make custody orders in a paternity case?

There are series of complex rules involving whether the family court in Hemet or Riverside has the power, or jurisdiction, to hear a paternity or custody case.  The process begins by finding out whether the child was conceived and/or born in California, whether a prior custody order has been made in any other state, whether the child has lived in California for at least six months, and whether the child is currently living within Riverside County.

This is an extremely complex question that depends on a number of circumstances.  Family Code 7501 says that a custodial parent has a right to relocate with their child unless the move would be so detrimental to the child that a change of custody to the other parent is warranted.  If the other parent contests the move, the case is called a “move away” case, which can be extremely complex.  Before this analysis begins however, we start by asking whether both parents are currently involved in the child’s life?  Is the Father listed on the birth certificate?  Does the other parent consent to the move in writing?  Is there a pending court case in Hemet or Riverside?  Is there a child support order?  In Riverside County, the family courts will not even consider a move away until an expert has been appointed to evaluate the move.

Paternity cases can be extremely complex, so contact our office today at (951) 249-7022 for a free consultation.