In 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.
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