Declaration of Paternity

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What is Paternity?

Paternity means fatherhood. Establishing paternity is the legal process of determining the biological father of a child. When parents are married, paternity is usually established automatically. If parents are unmarried, paternity establishment is NOT automatic and the process should be started by both parents as soon as possible for the benefit of the child. Without the establishment of paternity, the father does not have the legal rights or legal responsibilities of a parent. Establishing paternity is necessary before custody, visitation and child support can be ordered by the court. Establishing paternity allows an unmarried father to have his name placed on the birth certificate. Paternity can be established either by signing a Declaration of Paternity form or by going to court. If a father becomes involved with his child from the beginning of the child's life, he is more likely to continue to care both financially and emotionally for the child as he or she grows.

What is a Declaration of Paternity?

The Declaration of Paternity is a legal form that, when signed by both parents, says the man is the legal father. Signing the form will legally establish the man as the child's father without having to go to court. Signing the form allows an unmarried father's name to be placed on his child's birth certificate. Signing a Declaration of Paternity is voluntary.

Where can I obtain a Declaration of Paternity?

You can obtain a Declaration of Paternity form at the hospital or clinic right after your child is born. Signing the form in the hospital is a quick, easy and free way to have the father's name added to his child's birth certificate. Your local Registrar of Births and Deaths' office, county Department of Child Support Services, Family Law Facilitator or Welfare offices can also provide you with a Declaration of Paternity form. If you choose to complete and sign the Declaration of Paternity after leaving the hospital, you will have to pay a fee to the State Office of Vital Records to have the father's name added to the birth certificate.

Can I rescind or cancel the Declaration of Paternity after I sign it?

Either parent may cancel the Declaration of Paternity by completing a Rescission of Paternity form. This form must be filed with the California Department of Social Services within 60 days of the date the paternity declaration was signed. The rescission form should be sent to:

California Department of Child Support Services
Attention: Paternity Opportunity Program
P.O. Box 419070
Rancho Cordova, CA 95741-9070

This form is available online or at the Central Sierra Child Support Agency office.