Prior to 1997, it was the state’s policy not to allow fathers to sign parentage declarations prior to the child’s birth because we did not believe there was sufficient authority in the law to warrant such an allowance. However, effective January 1, 1997, there were some significant changes in the California Family Code and Health and Safety Code, which supported allowing fathers to sign parentage declarations prior to a child’s birth. First, Health and Safety Code Section 10425 was amended to require a father not married to the child’s mother to sign a parentage declaration or adjudicate parentage in court in order to have his name included as the father on the child’s birth certificate. California Family Code 7570(e), allowing prenatal clinics to offer prospective parents the opportunity to sign voluntary acknowledgements of parentage was enacted by the legislature. Finally, California Family Code Section 7573, which states completed and signed voluntary parentage declarations filed with the state, shall have the same force and effect as a judgment of parentage, and was enacted by the legislature.
We believe it was the legislature’s intent in enacting the laws described above to allow unmarried parents to complete parentage declarations prior to the child’s birth. We believe this policy affords a father who is unable to be present at the time of his child’s birth, the same opportunity to declare parentage and get his name on his child’s birth certificate as a father who is present at his child’s birth. In applying this policy, we recommend it only be used when the father will be unable to be present at the time of the child’s birth.
Furthermore, although the mother should enter her identifying information at the time the father signs it, we strongly recommend mothers not to sign the form until the child has been born. In such cases, all fields on the form, except the child’s name and date of birth, should be completed at the time it is signed by the father. Please check with VDOP Coordinator as rules may have changed to only signing VDOP after birth of the child.