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Parentage Cases

In parentage cases, also called "paternity cases," the court makes orders that say who the child's legal parents are. If parents are married when a child is born, there is usually no question about parentage. 

Unmarried Parents

For unmarried parents, parentage needs to be established legally. Once legal parentage is established, the court can make orders about custody, visitation and child support. Other ways that a person can be established as a legal parent are: signing a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity or Parentage at the hospital when the child is born, or having a child support judgment entered establishing legal parentage.

Petition to Determine a Parental Relationship

The Petition to Determine a Parental Relationship is used when there is no legal father established for a child.

Petition for Custody and Support

A Petition for Custody and Support is used when there is a legal father but there are no orders for custody or visitation.

If you already have an open case but do not have orders, you may want to contact the Self-Help center for assistance and referral to the proper clinic.

The Self-Help Center offers a clinic that provides assistance in filling out the forms related to establishing an original custody or visitation order. Please check the clinic calendar for the “Petition for Custody and Support & Beginning Parentage” clinic.

For more information on parentage cases, click here.

Online Assistance

There are several Self-Help resources that can be accessed from anywhere with internet. The California Courts website has information on a variety of case types and issues, and court forms. If you want help completing court forms online, Odyssey Guide & File is a free program that guides a user through a series of questions with the goal of producing legal forms that may be printed, then filed with the court. 

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