California law takes a broad view of fatherhood through the concept of “presumed parenthood” because the state recognizes that paternity is more than just DNA. Under this principle, a man can establish paternity even if he has no biological connection to the child.

Understanding “Presumed Parent”

In certain situations, California law presumes a man is the father of a child. The California courts consider the following when determining whether a man qualifies as a presumed father when:

  • He was married to the mother when the child was conceived or born.
  • He attempted to marry the mother when the child was conceived or born.
  • He married the mother after the child was born and, previously, he agreed to support the child or to have his name on the birth certificate.
  • He took the child into his home and treated the child as his own.

The Rights and Responsibilities of Presumed Fathers

Presumed fathers have the same custody and visitation rights as mothers — even if DNA testing later shows no biological connection existing between the father and child.

Presumed fathers have all the responsibilities of fatherhood.

In the event of divorce or the death of the mother, presumed fathers must continue providing financial support for the child(ren).

When a marriage with children dissolves, it is especially important that each partner is represented by an experienced California divorce attorney who can help ensure that the children continue to benefit from the support of both parents.