This is the next post in our series on the handling of child support issues in Orange County, California. Our last article discussed how California calculates child support. It is important to understand that our state employs many variables when determining support and the process of determining a final amount can be complicated. Retaining a lawyer can help you to ensure that the amount to be paid is fair under the law. In this article we will discuss why parents wishing to receive support must establish paternity. Given that our state’s laws on “retroactive” support, it is important that parentage be established as soon as possible.
In California, as in other states, a father will have no responsibility to pay child support if paternity has not been established. This is because, in the eyes of the law, the male is not yet considered the father of the child. Paternity will be considered unestablished if no Voluntary Declaration of Paternity was signed by the parents, if the parents were not married at the time of the child’s birth, and if the parents did not live together in a “family like” manner with the child. As long as paternity remains unestablished then the male will have no obligation to support the child and, as we discussed in our post on the rights of unmarried California fathers, a dad will have no right to visitation without first establishing parentage.
If you wish to collect child support then you must establish paternity as soon as possible if you have not already done so. This is due to California’s laws regarding the availability of retroactive support; our laws differ from those in many other states. In Nevada, for example, a Court can award support for a period of up to four years before the establishment of paternity and the parent is always able to request support for this four year time frame. Our state does not limit the amount of time for which a parent may request back support. Orange County Family Court Judges, however, have discretion to deny a parent’s request for back support if they believe that the parent was not diligent in bringing the case to Court. In other words, if you request four years of back support and the Judge feels that you should have come to Court two years ago, you may only receive child support for the two most recent years.
Orange County parents should establish paternity immediately if they have not already done so. For the reasons explained above, failing to do so may limit one’s ability to recover back child support. Contact our office today to speak with a child support attorney for assistance. Our Laguna Hills office also serves Aliso Viejo, Anaheim, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Dana Point, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, La Habra, Ladera Ranch, Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Orange, Placentia, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Ana, Tustin, Westminster, and Yorba Linda.