Family law courts have jurisdiction to determine parentage. In other words, family law courts may determine the identity of the parents of a child using genetic testing. Once parentage is established, a person has all the rights of a parent, may obtain custody/visitation orders, and may be ordered to pay child support.
Parentage litigation is resolved in the family law courts. This area of the law is decided based on statutes, case law, and a number of very significant presumptions. The laws are designed to protect the best interests of the child and follow common sense.
Paternity cases may also involve other child custody issues and child support which are both determined under the same body of law that controls these issues in a divorce.
California laws relative to paternity are based on the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) which was adopted in 1975, but is not limited to the provisions of the UPA.
Paternity laws are based, in part, on presumptions. It is conclusively presumed that the child of a wife cohabiting with her husband, who is not impotent or sterile, is conclusively presumed to be a child of the marriage. This presumption may be applied against a man who is the biological father of the child. A divorce or separation does not impact this conclusive presumption. The presumption will be applied unless it would result in a bizarre and illogical outcome. The presumption will not be applied against the biological father in favor of the presumed father where there was no relationship between the child and the biological father.