In an effort to create a legal link between unmarried fathers and their children, the California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) formed a partnership with licensed hospitals and clinics to establish the Paternity Opportunity Program (POP). This program gives parents who are not married an opportunity to voluntarily acknowledge paternity by signing a Declaration of Paternity form (sometimes referred to as a "POP Declaration"). POP began in hospitals and has expanded to include prenatal clinics, county welfare 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 paternity
The Declaration of Paternity is a form that unmarried parents can voluntarily sign to legally establish paternity (fatherhood) 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 paternity. Unmarried parents who sign the Declaration of Paternity help their child gain the same rights and privileges as children born within a marriage.
These benefits may include some or all of the following:
Father’s name on the child’s birth certificate
Access to important family medical records
Medical and life insurance coverage, if available
Social security or veteran’s benefits
Custody and visitation
The emotional advantage of knowing both parents
For more information on how a Declaration of Paternity can help you and your new baby, see a POP Fact Sheet published by DCSS
When a baby is born to an unmarried mother, 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 father’s name can be added to the child’s original birth certificate. The father’s name will not be included on the Birth Certificate if the parents are not married and do not sign the Declaration of Paternity. The representative will send the original declaration form to the State for filing and will provide copies to the parents.
Military fathers-to-be on deployment can sign the Declaration of Paternity before the child is born.
Parents can also complete the Declaration of Paternity after they leave the hospital. CSSD representatives can help parents complete the form and witness the parents’ signatures. Parents may also receive assistance at the Office of the Family Law Facilitator. The assisting agency will file the original form with the State.
To complete a voluntary Declaration of Paternity at CSSD, Contact Us for our walk-in hours. Both parents must be present and bring government-issued, photo identification, such as:
State driver’s license or ID card
Military ID card
Inmate ID card
A parent can also request that the Declaration of Paternity form be mailed to him or her by contacting our Call Center at (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
Paternity Opportunity Program (POP)
P.O. Box 419070
Rancho Cordova, CA 95741-9070
Either parent may cancel or rescind the Declaration of Paternity by completing a Declaration of Paternity 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.
You may obtain a Declaration of Paternity Rescission form by contacting our local office, or the Office of the Family Law Facilitator. You may also obtain more information, including a copy of the rescission form, directly from DCSS by calling (866) 249-0773, emailing DCSS at firstname.lastname@example.org, or accessing Rescind or Cancel Filed Declaration of Paternity.
Parents may obtain a Request for a Filed Declaration of Paternity form by contacting DCSS at (866) 249-0773 or you may obtain additional information, including the form, by accessing Requesting a Filed Copy of the Declaration of Paternity.