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    What if he denies he is the father, or says he is not sure?

    Parentage 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 parentage of a man who is not excluded. Genetic tests are very reliable, which is why so few parentage cases go to trial.

    Is there an age limit for the genetic tests to be done on a child?

    No. Minor children of any age may be tested.

    Despite the genetic testing, the alleged father still says he is not the father. Will the case be closed?

    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 parentage will be decided. If the issue of parentage is to be tried, then RivCoDCSS will have to do additional investigation to prepare for trial. Once RivCoDCSS 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.

    What happens if the father leaves the state before parentage is established?

    The local court may use information they have to decide parentage without him. If parentage 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.

    Why should parentage be established if the father has no money to support the child?

    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, receives social security or an inheritance. Proving he is the father as soon as possible makes collecting child support easier later.

    What happens if parentage is established?

    Once paternity is established, RivCoDCSS will establish a support order, in most cases. You may also file for an amended birth certificate to add the father's name to the birth certificate.

    Can paperwork be filed to establish parentage while the mother is pregnant, before the child is born?

    Yes. You may start the paperwork to establish parentage when you are pregnant. If the man you believe is the father denies it, a genetic test can be ordered after your child is born.

    Genetic tests can be scheduled through our office. Parties would not be able to file through our office until the child is born.

    Can I get child support if I am not sure whom the father of my child is?

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

    Can parentage be established for my child if the father lives in another state?

    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 Parentage voluntarily declaring he is a child's father even if he lives in another state.

    What if one parent wants to sign the Declaration of Parentage and the other parent does not?

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

    What if the parents do not want to provide all of the information requested on the Declaration of Parentage form?

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

    Can minor parents complete and sign the Declaration of Parentage?

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

    Can a mother sign the form if the father is deceased during the pregnancy?

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

    If the parents return to the hospital to sign a Declaration of Parentage after the mother and baby have been discharged, are hospital staff required to accept and process the form?

    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 Parentage after leaving the hospital should contact the office of local registrar of births or local child support office.

    Will the father’s name be placed on the birth certificate if the Voluntary Declaration of Parentage (VDOP) form is not signed?

    No. Both parents must sign the Voluntary Declaration of Parentage form or have parentage adjudicated in court, in order to have the father’s name entered on the birth certificate when parents are not married. Please note, you will need to take the Voluntary Declaration of Parentage or court order to vital records office to complete an amended birth certificate. The birth certificate is not automatically updated.

    Can the parents rescind or cancel a Declaration of Parentage after it is signed?

    Yes, either parent may rescind or cancel the Declaration of Parentage 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 Parentage is signed. This form must be notarized. The parent canceling the Declaration of Parentage 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.

    Can new parents complete and sign the Declaration of Parentage when a child is born alive and then dies shortly after birth? (A Certificate of Live Birth is prepared in these situations).

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

    What can a mother do with regard to a Declaration of Parentage and getting a father’s name on the birth certificate when the child’s father has died prior to the birth of the child?

    If the unmarried father has died prior to the child’s birth, a Declaration of Parentage 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 Parentage form. The mother would need to consult an attorney or legal services clinic to pursue other avenues for establishing parentage.

    On or after January 1, 1997, would the Declaration of Parentage completed by parents in another state for a child born in California be accepted in California?

    Yes. California and Federal law state that California must accept and give full faith and credit to parentage determinations, including voluntary parentage 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.

    If the mother is married to someone else but not cohabiting with them at any time during the pregnancy, or has never filed for divorce, can she and the father who is not the husband sign the POP form?

    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.

    If the father has a child with an unmarried surrogate mother and he wants his name on the birth certificate, even though he is married to someone else...?

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

    Can we accept the services of a Notary Public in another country where the father is located?

    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 Parentage (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.

    What if the mother is not married and the father of the child is married to someone else?

    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 Parentage to have his name entered on the birth certificate as the legal father.

    Can same sex couples who adopt a child or conceive a child through artificial insemination sign a Declaration of Parentage?

    Yes. The Voluntary Declaration of Parentage (VDOP) allows same sex couples to sign.

    How will a child benefit if the parents sign the Declaration of Paremtage?

    A child whose parents sign the Declaration of Parentage 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.

    Is the Paremtage Opportunity Program a voluntary program for hospitals to administer?

    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 parentage, following the birth of their child. The program is voluntary for the parents in the respect that they choose to sign the Declaration of Parentage, 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.

    Can the Declaration of Parentage be signed prior to the birth of the child?

    No, Voluntary Declaration of Parentage can not be signed prior to the birth of the child. 

    If the parents are unmarried and a Declaration of Parentage 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 Parentage. 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 Parentage. This information will be used for statistical purposes.

    What items must be completed on a Declaration of Parentage before it becomes valid for establishing parentage?

    A valid Declaration of Parentage 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.

    Should both the mother and father sign the Declaration of Parentage form together in front of the same witness?

    Under normal circumstances yes. Because voluntary acknowledgement of parentage 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.