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Establishing Paternity FAQ

Paternity may be determined after genetic tests are given to the mother, the child and alleged father. Test results are available in approximately four to eight weeks. The tests exclude men who are not the father and indicate the likelihood of paternity of a man who is not excluded. Genetic tests are very reliable, which is why so few paternity cases go to trial.

No. If the genetic tests show that it is likely that he is the father, the matter will be set for a hearing or trial and paternity will be decided. If the issue of paternity is to be tried, then the RCDCSS will have to do additional investigation to prepare for trial. Once the RCDCSS believes it is prepared for trial, it will request that the court set the date for trial. This process could take from a few weeks to more than a year, depending on the circumstances of the case.

The local court may use information they have to decide paternity without him. If paternity is established without the alleged father's cooperation, the court may order him to pay child support no matter where he lives, even if he is out of California.

If you do not establish paternity, your child will not be able to get child support or health insurance even after the alleged father gets a job. Proving he is the father as soon as possible makes collecting child support easier later.

Once paternity is established, the RCDCSS will establish a support order, in most cases.

Yes. You may start the paperwork to establish paternity when you are pregnant. If the man you believe is the father denies it, a genetic test can be ordered after your baby is born. Genetic tests can be scheduled through our office.

No. Paternity must be established before child support can be ordered. Paternity gives your child many rights, including child support, access to medical records, government benefits, and more.

Yes. Our office will ask for a genetic test from the court in the other state. In addition, a man can sign a Declaration of Paternity voluntarily declaring he is a child's father even if he lives in another state.

The form must be completed and signed by both parents to be considered valid. The program is voluntary on the part of both parents.

Parents who wish to voluntarily declare paternity using the declaration form must provide all the information requested.

Yes. Minor parents may complete and sign a Declaration of Paternity. However, the declaration does not become a judgment of paternity until 60 days after both minor parents become adults or are legally emancipated, whichever comes first.

No. Both parents must sign the form. This situation would require legal consultation to determine paternity.

No. It is recommended that hospitals accept and process the forms submitted prior to the time the birth certificate is transmitted to the office of the local registrars of births and deaths. This is normally 5 to 10 days following the birth of the child. Parents wishing to complete a Declaration of Paternity after leaving the hospital should contact the office of local registrar of births or local child support office.

No. Both parents must sign the Declaration of Paternity form or have paternity adjudicated in court, in order to have the father’s name entered on the birth certificate when parents are not married.

Yes, either parent may rescind or cancel the Declaration of Paternity by filing a rescission form (CS 915) with CDSS-POP Unit. This form must be completed and filed within 60 days after the Declaration of Paternity is signed. This form must be notarized. The parent canceling the Declaration of Paternity must send a letter to the other parent telling them they are canceling the form. This letter must be sent to the other parent certified, “return receipt requested.” A copy of the receipt and letter must accompany the rescission form when filed with the CDSS-POP Unit. The rescission form is available at the local child support agency or at the office of the local registrar of births and deaths.

Yes. Parents may complete and sign a Declaration of Paternity when there is a live birth and the child dies shortly after birth.

If the unmarried father has died prior to the child’s birth, a Declaration of Paternity cannot be completed, and the father’s name cannot be added to the birth certificate. The law requires that both parents must sign the Declaration of Paternity form. The mother would need to consult an attorney or legal services clinic to pursue other avenues for establishing paternity.

Yes. California and Federal law state that California must accept and give full faith and credit to paternity determinations, including voluntary paternity declarations signed in other states. These determinations must be complete in compliance with the other states laws. However, in order to amend the birth certificate to add the father’s name, the parents will still need to complete a VS-22 form and pay a fee to the State Office of Vital Records.

No. The law states that the birth mother must be unmarried. The mother will have to go to court in order to have the biological father become the legal father. Once he is the legal father, the court can order the State Office of Vital Records to amend the birth certificate and add his name as the legal father.

Yes. The father can sign the Declaration of Paternity form to protect his rights as the natural father and to ensure that his name will be entered on the birth certificate.

Yes. Section 7571(d) of the Family Code states that, “If the declaration is not registered by the person responsible for registering live births at the hospital, it may be completed by the attesting parents, notarized, and mailed to the CDSS-POP Unit and a copy of the original mailed to the State Office of Vital Records along with an Acknowledgement of Paternity (VS-22) and the $23.00 fee at any time after the birth of the child. The law is not specific about where the form can be notarized and if there, is a notary in another country who signs, stamps, and witnessed that the person who is signing the form is verified and witnessed by them, and then the form will be accepted as valid.

In this instance, the mother is not married to someone else so there is no husband who is presumed to be the father of the child. The father, although married to someone else, can sign the Declaration of Paternity to have his name entered on the birth certificate as the legal father.

No. The law states that only the natural mother of the child and the man identified as the natural father may sign the Declaration of Paternity.

A child whose parents sign the Declaration of Paternity will receive many of the same benefits as a child born within a marriage. This includes: rights to medical coverage from the parent; rights to inheritance; rights to Social Security Survivors benefits if something should happen to either parent; and access to medical records in the case of life threatening illness, medical condition or emergency. The child also benefits emotionally by knowing who both of their parents are, and by having a connection to both sides of their family.

No. State and federal law mandates this program. Beginning January 1995, all hospitals in California with birthing facilities were required to provide unmarried parents the opportunity to voluntarily acknowledge paternity, following the birth of their child. The program is voluntary for the parents in the respect that they choose to sign the Declaration of Paternity, hospital staff are required to sign that they witnessed the parents’ signatures, distribute the copies accordingly and forward the original copy to the CDSS-POP Unit. It is critical that hospital staff ensure the form is correctly filled out and that is legible.

Only in special circumstances when the father of the child knows he will not be able to be present at the hospital at the time of birth due to military duty or incarceration.

If the parents are unmarried and a Declaration of Paternity is not completed at the hospital, does the clerk completing the birth certificate enter the other information about the father even though his name is not entered on the birth certificate?

Yes. The law requires that an unmarried father’s name be withheld from the birth certificate when the unmarried mother and father do not complete a Declaration of Paternity. According to the State Office of Vital Records, the other information about the father can be entered on the birth certificate without the signed Declaration of Paternity. This information will be used for statistical purposes.

A valid Declaration of Paternity must be completed in black ink and contain the following items: name and signature of the mother; name and signature of the father; the name and date of birth of the child; and the name and signature of the person witnessing the signing of the declaration. The date each person signed and the witness must agree. This is a legal form and cannot be processed unless it is properly completed.

Under normal circumstances yes. Because voluntary acknowledgement of paternity process requires the agreement and the signature of both parents, for the integrity of the program, both parents should sign in the presence of the same witness or notary public. Refer to previous questions for exceptions.