What is it?

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. But for unmarried parents, parentage of their children needs to be established legally.

Establishing parentage is necessary before custody, visitation, or child support will be ordered by a court. You can ask the judge for child support or custody and visitation orders as part of a case that establishes the child’s parentage.

What are the requirements?

To start a parentage action in California, your child must have been a resident of California for the past six months and must currently reside in the County where you plan on filing your petition.

If there is a post judgment Department of Child Support (DCSS) case and the child(ren) resides in our county and the parents are unmarried, it will not be necessary to file a Petition to Establish Parental Relationship as that parentage finding was made at the time of the judgment in the DCSS case. You can contact the Self-Help Center for assistance with this process, or you can visit the California Court’s Self-Help Center website.