Parentage – What is it?

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Parents with babyIn California, when a woman gives birth to a child she is almost always the legal mother of that child.  She has rights-- and duties -- for the child.  Paternity means fatherhood, and for a father it is different.  Every child has a biological father, but if the father has never been married to the mother and his paternity has not been legally established, most likely he will not have any rights -- or duties -- for the child.

A parentage case is the means to officially and legally determine who the parents of the child are. These are often called "paternity cases" because they usually seek to establish a man as the legal father.

In this section you will find information about what to do if:

It will help you understand what to do:

BEFORE starting a parentage case

DURING a legal proceeding

AFTER a legal proceeding

This section also has answers for your Frequently Asked Questions about parentage, and information about the forms you will need for your case.

To view some short videos with general information about how California's court system works, click here. Opens new window

To get the information you need to get started, you can use the "drop down" menu at the left side of this page, or you can click on the "Next" button at the bottom of the page. 


This website’s general information is very helpful for everyone in California.
To find your county court’s website to learn about extra forms or procedures, click here.


Did this information help you?  Tell us what you think.

If you want help finding what you need, you can email us at virtualselfhelp@contracosta.courts.ca.gov.

You will receive a response within one week.