Being Sued for Paternity in California? Learn About Your Legal Options
Posted on: May 18, 2018
If you find yourself sued for paternity and then child support by a child support agency then you should contact a family law attorney as soon as possible. In some cases, you may be presented with a timeline that seems to make it obvious that you’re the father. The baby could have been conceived when you were together, and that sometimes makes men assume they are the father.
At Kendall Gkikas & Mitchell, LLP we recommend that you don’t assume anything. It’s entirely possible that the mother doesn’t know who the father is and is asking numerous men to be tested for paternity. The law doesn’t require you to have DNA testing if you admit to being the father or if you don’t respond to the judgment and a default judgment is made against you. We recommend that you do what you can to make sure you are the father before you sign up for nearly two decades of child support and other expenses.
You have two years in California
In the state of California, if you believe that you’re the father of a baby, then you have two years to request a DNA test to determine paternity. Likewise, if you’re accused of being a father and don’t think you are, then you have two years to prove that you’re not. The mother also only has two years after giving birth to request a DNA test. That said, in the event that you were not aware of the child until later in life, then you can likely still get a judge to order the DNA test.
Understanding POP Declarations
One thing that’s essential to understand in California is that there is what’s known as a POP Declaration, which stands for “Paternity Opportunity Program.” It was created in an attempt to deal with children born out of wedlock in the state and to prevent unnecessary judicial resources from being used. Now, shortly after a baby is born, a member of the hospital staff will ask if the person who says they’re a father will sign a voluntary declaration stating that this is true.
When that declaration is signed, the staff will let the man know that he has 60 days to rescind his claim. If he doesn’t do it within that time, then the declaration becomes a judgment of paternity. They also have two years to file action with the courts to set aside that judgment.
POP Declarations have the potential to be coercive
There are significant issues with the process of using POP Declarations for paternity. First of all, the alleged father is typically asked to sign the form right after the baby is born. It’s difficult to say, “I won’t sign without genetic testing,” in front of friends and family. The 60-day period to rescind the document is good in theory, but it often isn’t used appropriately. A potential better option would be to give the alleged father 60 days to complete the form.
If you are being sued for paternity or are currently paying child support for a child you’re not sure is yours, then you should get in touch with a family law attorney sooner rather than later. Contact Kendall Gkikas & Mitchell, LLP at 909-482-1422 to get started.