In an effort to create a legal link between genetic fathers and their children, the California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) formed a partnership with licensed hospitals and clinics to establish the Parentage Opportunity Program (POP). This program gives parents who are not married an opportunity to voluntarily acknowledge parentage by signing a Declaration of Parentage form (sometimes referred to as a "POP Declaration"). POP began in hospitals and has expanded to include prenatal clinics, county CalWORKS offices, local child support agency (LCSA) offices, and courts. When filed with the State, the declaration has the same effect as a legal judgment of parentage.
Effective January 1, 1997, if the parents of a child born in California are not legally married when the child is born, the genetic father's name will not be added to the birth certificate unless both parents:
For more information on voluntarily acknowledging paternity, see Parentage Opportunity Program (POP).
The Declaration of Parentage is a form that unmarried parents can voluntarily sign to legally establish parentage of their child without going to court. Once it is filed with the State, it has the same effect as a court-ordered judgment of parentage. Unmarried parents who sign the Declaration of Parentage help their child gain the same rights and privileges as children born within a marriage.
For additional information about the Parentage Opportunity Program go to How a Declaration of Parentage can help you and your new baby.
When a baby is born to an unmarried birth parent, an authorized representative at the hospital or clinic will offer the parents the opportunity to complete and sign the form. The representative can help the parents complete the form and witness the parents' signatures. When parents complete the form in the hospital, the genetic father's name can be added to the child's original birth certificate. The genetic father's name will not be included on the birth certificate if the parents are not married and do not sign the Declaration of Parentage. The representative will send the original declaration form to the State for filing and will provide copies to the parents.
Parents can also complete the Declaration of Parentage after they leave the hospital. Our representatives can help parents complete the form and witness the parents' signatures. Parents may also receive assistance at the Family Law Facilitator Office. The assisting agency will file the original form with the State.
To complete a voluntary Declaration of Parentage at our office as a walk in; both parents must be present and bring government-issued, photo identification, such as:
A parent can also request that the Declaration of Parentage form be mailed to them by contacting our Call Center at 1 (866) 901-3212. If the form is not signed at the hospital or at a public agency, you will need to sign it in the presence of a Notary Public.
Once fully completed and signed, the original declaration form must be sent to the State within 20 days of the date it is signed. Mail the form to:Department of Child Support Services
Either parent may cancel or rescind the Declaration of Parentage by completing a Declaration of Parentage Rescission form in a timely manner unless a court order for custody, visitation, or child support has been entered. The rescission form must be signed in the presence of a Notary Public.
For information on altering a birth certificate to add or change the father's name, contact the Office of Vital Records for detailed instructions and fee information.