<img height="1" width="1" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=467191071302414&amp;ev=PageView &amp;noscript=1">

Child Support Payment Calculator

Get Your Estimate

Is Divorce The Right Option For You?

Take The Quiz

Protect Your Assets and Net Worth During Divorce

Download The Guide

Get a 30–Minute, Free Consultation

You will walk away with an idea of what choices you can make and what each different path would look like – whether or not you wish to pursue any action now.

Contact Us

Can Mothers Seek Child Support Without Establishing Paternity?

Are you an unmarried mother who wants to know if you can get the court to issue a child support order without establishing paternity? Or, are you being told that you’re a child’s father and now the mother is asking you to provide financial support for your child?

Either way, you may be wondering if the court can issue a child support order without establishing paternity first – this is a reasonable question to ask.

Father washing hands with daughter

Like all states, in California, when a child is born to married parents, the law automatically assumes the woman’s husband is the biological and legal father of the child. But when a child is born to unwed parents, the child has no legal father.

So, that brings us to the question about paying child support. Can the court order a man to pay child support without establishing legal paternity?

The answer is “No.” The family courts cannot issue child support or child custody orders until paternity is established.

How do I establish paternity in California?

To establish paternity is to establish a child’s legal father. In California, there are two main ways to do this.

  1. The unmarried parents voluntarily sign a Declaration of Paternity form at the hospital shortly after the child’s birth.

  2. Through a court-ordered DNA test.

No one can force you to sign a Declaration of Paternity form. Whether you’re the mother or presumed father, if you’re not 100% sure who the biological father is or if you have any doubt, you should ask the court for genetic testing to establish paternity. Eighteen or nineteen years is a long time for someone to pay child support for a child who is not theirs.

A couple sitting a table across from one another with a lawyer between them, tense expressions on their faces

What are the benefits of DNA testing to establish paternity?

Once paternity is confirmed, the mother can ask the court to make a child support court order and the child’s biological father can exercise his parental rights, such as seeking custody and visitation of his son or daughter.

If a mother is seeking child support, legal paternity has to be established first. While a presumed father can voluntarily give the mother cash payments, the court cannot get involved and the father technically has no legal rights until they establish paternity.


New call-to-action