Before you can collect child support, you will need to determine who the child's parents are according to the law. If you were married when you became pregnant or when the child was born, California courts will automatically assume that you and your spouse are the child's legal parents. However, if you are not married to the child's other parent, you may have to establish parentage before moving forward with the child custody and support process.
In order to establish parentage, you will need a court order or a signed voluntary Declaration of Paternity. If a couple is unmarried, the father does not have any legal rights or responsibilities until parentage is established, even if he can prove that he is the biological father. If unmarried parents sign the Declaration of Paternity form and file it with the California Department of Child Support Services, courts will consider them the legal parents of the child. In cases where a father denies that he is the father, or if there is a doubt as to whether he is the father, he may request a DNA test or the court may order one. Based on these results, the court may enter an order establishing parentage.
Once parentage is established, both parents have the right to request custody and visitation time, so that they can spend time with the child and play a part in raising the child. The custodial parent may also request child support to help pay for childcare costs.
Legally establishing parentage can be complicated and require the help of an experienced family attorney. An attorney can help legally establish parentage and come up with a child support and child custody arrangement that is in the best interest of the child.
Source: California Courts, "Parentage/Paternity," accessed on Nov. 14, 2017