Thursday, May 31, 2007

What to Expect in a California Paternity Suit

Legal help from experienced family law and paternity lawyers serving the Temecula, Murrieta and Hemet areas of Riverside County, California.

To begin a paternity suit in Ca, one party must file a petition to establish paternity at the local courthouse. The Petition to establish paternity is then served upon the other party. The person who files the Petition is the Petitioner. The person who is served the Petition is the Respondent.

After the Petition is served, the Respondent has 30 days to file a Response. The Response tells the court that the Respondent intends to participate in the paternity action and wants to be notified of any upcoming court dates.

If the Respondent does not file a Response, the case proceeds by "default." If the case proceeds by default, the Petitioner prepares a paternity judgment and submits it to the court. At this point, the Petitioner will be given pretty much whatever custody, visitation and child support orders he or she requests.

If the Respondent files a Response, the parties have the right to a dna test (genetic test). This is done by taking a cheek swab of each party and each child.

Sometimes the case is resolved through settlement. If a paternity settlement is reached, the parties prepare a Settlement Agreement, which later becomes the Paternity Judgment and the case is concluded– sometimes without ever having to attend court.

If the paternity case goes to trial, each attorney presents evidence and arguments. The judge decides all the unresolved issues, including paternity of the children, child custody, child visitation, child support, and attorney fees. The judgment for paternity is prepared and then signed by the court.

Even after the paternity judgment is entered if the parties’ circumstances change, either party can later return to court to change the child custody, child visitation, and child support in the judgment. This is called a modification proceeding. Orders determining paternity or awarding attorney fees can almost never be changed later on.

The above paternity information is provided as a courtesy of the divorce and paternity attorneys at Famularo & Associates. If you would like more information on this, or any other divorce or family law matter, please visit our websites at: or or

If you live in the Temecula, Murrieta or Hemet or Riverside areas of Riverside county, California, you may also call our office for a free consulation at: (951) 587-0505.