One way to establish paternity under California law is for both parents to sign a Declaration of Paternity. This form is available at the hospital when a baby is born. If both parents sign this form, there is no need to get a court order establishing paternity for the child. In signing a Declaration, both parties admit that the man is the father of the child, and the man’s name is placed on the birth certificate along with the mother’s name. If the parents don’t sign a Declaration at the hospital, they can sign it at the local child support agency, the registrar of births, the family law facilitator at the local courthouse, or at the local welfare office. Parents also can sign the Declaration outside of these agencies, so long as their signatures are witnessed by a notary public. The form then must be filed with the California Department of Child Support Services Paternity Opportunity Program in order for it to be legally valid.
Once paternity is established by signing a Declaration of Paternity, it can be nearly impossible to undo. This is the case even if a father later undergoes DNA tests, which reveal that he is not the child’s biological father. For this reason, it is extremely important that you do not sign the Declaration at the hospital if there is any chance, no matter how remote, that you are not the father of the child. If this is the case, you should initiate paternity proceedings in court so that you can request DNA testing. Assuming that the test results show that you are the father of the child, then the court will issue an order that legally establishes paternity for the child and places your name on the child’s birth certificate along with the mother’s name.
A knowledgeable California paternity attorney can guide you through every step of your paternity proceedings, which typically involves child custody, visitation, and child support. You are likely to have many questions, both now and in the future, about various issues related to paternity, including the various ways that you can formally establish paternity under California law. At the Law Offices of Vincent W. Davis & Associates, we have assisted countless clients through court proceedings involving paternity, child support, and child custody. Contact our office today and see how we can help.