I HAVE had many clients who come into my offices and ask questions about what to do with their child or children that are born out-of-wedlock, meaning the biological parents are not married to each other. Many concerns have to do with child support/financial help or biological fathers wanting to see their child or gain some custody or visitation rights. These concerns can only be resolved through a Paternity Action.
A Paternity Action is a civil case wherein a biological father will be deemed the father of the minor child under the eyes of the law. Biological mothers are already deemed the biological mother just by birth alone. However, biological fathers must pursue a civil Paternity Action to get his rights, even though he is listed as the father in the child’s birth certificate. Once paternity is established, the biological father will have the same rights as if both parents were married to each other.
There are many reasons why parents should initiate this type of action and should initiate it as soon as possible. One of the most important reason is the guarantee that biological fathers will have access to the minor child and have the California protections before it is too late. For example, a mother could cross state lines with her child without telling the biological father where she is going and without the consent of the father. The mother could always make-up a story that she does not know who the father is. Therefore, she is free to leave and go to a different state or a different country. Where will that leave the biological father?
With a Paternity Action, a biological father will be able to have specific court orders preventing the child from leaving Southern California without his written consent. He can immediately get orders preventing the mother from boarding an airplane if the child is with her. Of course, the mother could always leave, but she cannot take the child with her.
With those specific orders, the biological father could also have the assistance of the police officers or marshals to help execute the Court order. In other words, the biological father will have the assistance of the entire California judicial system if he initiates a Paternity Action.
With biological mothers, they will have the financial support to rear the child. She does not have to support the child by herself. She does not need to. She could get help from the biological father. These financial support orders are court orders. Therefore, the amount can and will be taken out of his wages automatically. She does not have to keep asking for the monthly check. If the biological father does not pay the court ordered child support, then that amount accumulates and will earn 10% compounded interest. Either way, the child is always better off in the long run. The child will know both the mother and the father and at the same time, be able to live a more comfortable life with the financial help of the father.
As stated previously, throughout the years that I have practiced family law here in Los Angeles, I found that my Pilipino clients have to be briefed about the law and what the law could and would provide for them. They tend to bring their own knowledge of the law from the Philippines and expect that the Philippine law would also apply here in the United States. This is rarely the case and is a cause of much confusion. That is why it is very important that we Pilipinos know our rights in this family law area so that we could plan ahead of time before it is too late. Understanding your rights in family law could and would protect you.
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Ethelene F. Salas, Esq. is a practicing family law attorney. Ms. Salas is a Filipino-American born in the Philippines, raised in the United States, and speaks Tagalog fluently. The Law Offices of Ethelene F. Salas is located at two locations – the main office at 100 N. Barranca St., Suite 700, West Covina, CA 91791 and affiliated offices at 18000 Studebaker Road, Suite 700, Cerritos, CA 90703. To schedule an appointment with her, please call (626) 858-4646 or visit www.EFS-Law.com.