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You may have noticed that married couples are well on their way to becoming a rarity in the United States. This also means that more couples are now having children without getting married, since marriage is no longer a necessary precursor to having children. This article is about how a parent/child relationship is established in cases of married parents vs. unmarried parents. Once a legal "parent and child relationship" is established, both parents are responsible for financially supporting the child until age of majority, both parents have custody and visitation rights to the child, and both parents have legal rights and duties with respect to the child.  



Married parents: a child born to a married couple is presumed by law to be the husband's child if, at the time of the child's birth, the husband and wife lived together and the husband was not sterile. This presumption can be challenged by blood (DNA) tests that show that the husband is not the real father. The window of opportunity to challenge the presumption of paternity is only within the  first two (2) years of a child's life. Either the husband, wife, or the real father can demand a blood test to challenge paternity, but it must be done by filing a court action within the first two (2) years of the child's life. After the child turns two years old, the presumption that the husband is the biological father is set in stone. No one can challenge paternity after the child turns two years old. This means that if the husband finds out that he is not the real father after the child turn two years old, he is still on the hook for supporting the child during minority and for all duties that arise out of the relationship.    

Unmarried parents: Mother's listing of a man's name as the child's father on hospital records or on the birth certificate does not establish that man as the father of the child.  

There are three ways to establish paternity for unmarried parents:  

  1. The execution of a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity at the hospital;
  2. Taking a blood test which establishes the man's paternity in the course of a paternity action that is filed within the required time period; and
  3.  Once a final judgment of paternity is entered by the  court.  

You should keep in mind that either adult parent can rescind the Voluntary Declaration of Paternity within 60 days of its execution. However, even if the Voluntary Declaration of Paternity is not rescinded within 60 days, paternity can still be subsequantly challenged provided that a legal action is filed within three (3) years of the execution of the Voluntary Declaration of Paternity.  

If the Voluntary Declaration of Paternity was never executed by the father, there is essentially no time limit for either parent to file a paternity action.  

Aside from determining paternity for the purpose of securing child support, it is also important to have it determined for the following reasons: inheritance rights, custody rights upon death of a parent, physiological needs of the child if s/he becomes ill and there is an issue with blood/organ donation, etc..    

If you are not married, we recommend seeking legal advice while you are still pregnant, in order to establish paternity, child custody, child support and pregnancy related medical expenses as soon as possible.  

If you are interested in receiving legal advice, feel free to contact us at (323) 653-1600 or email us at [Link Removed] You can also look us up at  

The above information is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.

Kvlaw, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.


Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Kendal wrote Feb 23, 2008
    • Thanks for the tips, it is always good to have this information on hand. The divorce rate these days is unbelievable.

      My neighbors went through a divorce not long ago.  Witnessing what this has done to their children over the years is horrible.

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