California Parentage Law

Jul 11, 2023

Understanding California Parentage Law: A Guide for Families

California is at the forefront of progressive family law, especially when it comes to parentage rights. With changing societal dynamics and advancements in assisted reproductive technologies, it's important to navigate the complexities of parentage law to ensure the legal recognition and protection of all family structures. In this blog, we'll explore the key aspects of California parentage law and how it impacts different family situations.

What is Parentage?

Parentage refers to the legal status of being a parent. Under California law, establishing parentage is crucial to determine each parent's rights and responsibilities. It ensures that all children have the opportunity to develop a meaningful relationship with their parents, regardless of how they were conceived or their parents' marital status.

Presumption of Parentage

California law establishes a presumption of parentage in various situations. For married couples, if a child is born during the marriage or within 300 days of the marriage ending, both spouses are presumed to be the child's legal parents. This presumption also applies to registered domestic partners.

Additionally, if a man receives the child into his home and openly holds the child out as his own, with the consent of the child's mother, he may establish a presumption of parentage.

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) and Parentage

California has recognized the significant role of assisted reproductive technology (ART) in modern family-building. The Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) in California provides clear guidelines for establishing parentage through ART.

If a child is conceived through assisted reproduction using a sperm or egg donor, the intended parent or parents who consented to the assisted reproduction and intended to be the child's parent(s) will be legally recognized as the child's parents, regardless of genetic connection.

Parentage Disputes and Court Proceedings

In some cases, parentage disputes may arise, leading to court proceedings. These disputes can occur when one parent denies the other parent's legal rights or when there is disagreement over the child's biological parentage.

If there is a dispute regarding parentage, any interested party may file a petition with the court to establish parentage. The court will consider various factors, including genetic testing, biological relationship, and the best interests of the child, before making a determination.

Protection of Parental Rights and Responsibilities

Once parentage is established, both parents have equal rights and responsibilities towards their child. This includes the right to make decisions about the child's education, healthcare, and overall well-being.

California law also recognizes the importance of maintaining a child's relationship with both parents after separation or divorce. Unless it is not in the child's best interests, the court generally encourages joint legal and physical custody arrangements, promoting co-parenting and shared responsibility.


California's parentage laws have adapted to reflect the modern realities of family structures, including those formed through assisted reproductive technologies. By establishing clear guidelines for parentage and protecting the rights of both parents, California ensures that children have the opportunity to grow in loving and supportive families.

If you have questions about California parentage law, it's essential to consult with an experienced family law attorney who specializes in assisted reproductive technology. They can provide you with the guidance and support needed to navigate the legal complexities and protect the best interests of you and your family.