Q: Can a Child have more than one father?
This case creates interesting possibilities when it comes to child custody and child support issues.
Q: I just found out that I am not the biological father of a child that I have been paying support for, do I have a case?
A: If it has been more than 3 years since you have been deemed to be the father then it may be too late for you to undue a court judgment of paternity. However, if you have never formed a relationship with the child, there is some case law that indicates you may be able to set aside the judgment of paternity. Also, it is probably not too late for you to sue the biological father for cross-support. See Elisa B. v. Superior Court, (above) which holds that a child can have more than one parent of the same sex.
Q: I am the biological father of a child. How much custody can I get?
A: Your rights to custody are the same as the mother's. So, in an ideal situation you should be able to get 50% custody. However, the custody you actually get may be more or less than 50%. The bottom line is how much custody do you actually want, and how much do you believe you can actually handle. Robert McCoy has helped hundreds of fathers increase the amount of time they have custody of their children.
Q: What is the difference between a biological father and a legal father?
A: A biological father is the person whose DNA the child possesses. The legal father may or may not have a child who possesses his DNA. A child can have a biological father and one or more legal fathers at the same time. Only the legal father may be legally required to pay child support. There are several ways a person may become the legal father of a child:
By marrying the mother before the child is born
By signing a Form called a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity, that the mother also signs.
By obtaining paternity tests showing one is the bio dad and obtaining a judgment thereon (note that if the child already has a legal father, it is possible that the court will now deem the child to have 2 fathers). But also note that there is one California appellate case (Zachariah) that holds that a child can only have one "presumed" father. This 2004 case, however, is not a California Supreme Court case, and seems to contradict the Elisa B. v. Superior Court case.
By taking the child into his home and holding the child out to the world as his own (usually for several years) and obtaining a judgment thereon.
By an adoption.
Q: Can the status of "legal" father be undone?
A: Sometimes. If a legal father brings an action in court to determine paternity before the child is age 2, and biological tests show that the child is not the legal father's child, the status of legal father can be set aside by the court. Also, parental rights can be terminated in extreme circumstances. There are two ways parental rights can be terminated, 1) By the juvenile court usually for neglect or abuse, and 2) by an adoption of another proposed parent.
Q: How long after a child is born can an action for paternity be brought?
A: Up until the time the child is at least 18 years old.
Q: Can a child over age 18 bring an action for past child support?
A: No, not unless there was a child support order entered before the child turned 18. And if there were a child support order entered before the child were 18 and arrears are due, those arrears belong to the other parent in whose favor the child support was awarded. However, if and when the supported party dies, then the supported adult child may seek child support arrears through the probate court.
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