Establishing Paternity (Fatherhood) FAQs

Can I get child support if I’m not sure who the father of my child is?
No. Paternity (a legal determination of who the father is) must be established before child support can be ordered. Paternity gives your child many rights, including child support, access to medical records, government benefits and more. However, you can get CalWORKS without paternity. Click here: PUB 244: Establishing Paternity (Child’s Father)
What if the father leaves the state before it’s proven that he is the father?
The local court may use information they have to decide paternity without him. If paternity is established without the alleged father’s cooperation, the court may order him to pay child support no matter where he lives, even if he is out of California.
The man doesn’t have any money or a job to support our child. Why should I bother proving that he is the father?
If you don’t establish paternity, your child will not be able to get child support or health insurance even after the alleged father gets a job. Proving he is the father as soon as possible makes collecting child support easier later on. Click here: PUB 244: Establishing Paternity (Child’s Father)
Can I start my case while I’m pregnant, before my baby is born?
You may start the paperwork to establish paternity when you are pregnant. The local child support agency can only open and pursue the case after the child is born. If the man you believe is the father denies that he is the father, a genetic test can be ordered after your baby is born. (Some labs will only perform genetic tests after a child is six months of age or older). Genetic tests can be scheduled through the local child support agency.
Can paternity be established for my child if the father lives in another state?
Yes. The local child support agency will ask for a genetic test from the court in the other state. Also, a man can sign a Declaration of Paternity voluntarily declaring he is the child’s father even if he lives in another state.