Can a Mother Get Child Support Without Establishing Paternity?

These days, more (and more) children are being born out of wedlock or to unmarried parents, and there are reasons for this. For one, having a child outside of marriage has gone from being frowned upon to socially acceptable, even “normal” for today’s standards.

Second, some adults have decided to never marry because they are children of divorce and don’t want to end up like their parents and third, some people simply don’t believe in marriage because they think it always ends in divorce, they don’t believe in monogamy, or they think someone always cheats – those types of reasons. Then, there are those unplanned pregnancies.

Regardless of the “reason” for a child being born to unmarried parents, the situation definitely gives rise to questions, especially as they pertain to child custody and child support. One question we hear often is, “Can I collect child support from the father without having to establish paternity?”

Why You Need a Court Order

If you’re a mother who wishes to try and get child support from your child’s biological father without establishing paternity, it can’t be done. While the father may voluntarily give you cash to help out, you cannot ask the court to issue any orders for child support until paternity has been legally established.

There are two main ways to establish paternity in California:

  • By both parents voluntarily signing a Declaration of Paternity form. This form is usually signed at the hospital shortly after the child is born.
  • By going to court and getting DNA (genetic test) done to confirm the father-child biological relationship.

If you are the mother, please be aware that if you want a child support order, paternity will have to be established; there is no way around it. Once paternity is confirmed, it opens the door for the child’s biological and legal father to ask for visitation and child custody orders.

If you don’t want the father in the child’s life because he has a drug problem, he is physically abusive, he is a violent criminal, or he has a severe mental illness, this is something you should discuss with an attorney from our firm before you move forward.

If you have questions about paternity or child support, contact Claery & Hammond, LLP to schedule a free case evaluation.