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In a paternity case, the parenting plan must be first established by a judgment of paternity. This is one of the last gender-biased issues in the law. As, when a father is not married to the mother at time of birth or conception, the father can have no legal rights. This can lead to severe consequences. You can get a judgment of paternity by what's called a voluntary declaration of paternity, such as those that are signed in the hospital or on a birth certificate. If there is no voluntary declaration of paternity, and no judgment of paternity, then you need to file a complaint to establish a paternal relationship. Either parent can ask for a DNA test and either parent can ask for a separate trial as to the parentage issue. In addition, the parenting plan, once the parentage has been established, is decided in California by mediation. California is a mandatory mediation state and San Diego, as opposed to Orange County, is a recommending county. What this means is that the parents meet with a licensed clinical social worker hired by the courts to try to get parents to reach agreements. If the parents reach an agreement, the mediator writes up the agreement. If the parents don't reach an agreement, then the mediator gives a copy of the written report to both parents and a copy to the judge. The judge follows the mediator's report the majority of the time. So it's very important to be completely prepared for your mediation and our law office can help you with that.