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Establishing

Parentage

We must establish parentage (a legal parent-child relationship) for a child in order to obtain a court order for child support and health insurance coverage. Usually that means establishing legal paternity of a man. See Establishing Legal Parentage.  If the child was conceived during the legal marriage of the parents, the law assumes the husband is the father of the child in most cases. If the parents are unmarried or the child was conceived prior to the marriage, a court order may be necessary. We can bring a lawsuit against the man who the mother names as the father. If the man denies he is the father, he can file an Answer and request Genetic Testing to determine if he is the biological father of the child. Legal paternity can also be established without going to court if the parents file a voluntary Declaration of Parentage form under California's Parentage Opportunity Program (POP). Under some circumstances the court may determine that a man is the legal father of a child even if he is not the biological father. If you are served with papers naming you as the father of a child, it is very important to protect your rights by filing an Answer right away. For more information, see File an Answer.

Birth Certificate

Effective January 1, 1997, if the parents of a child born in California are not legally married when the child is born, the name of the person identified by the woman giving birth as either the only possible genetic parent other than the woman giving birth or the intended parent of a child conceived through assisted reproduction shall not be listed on the birth certificate unless:

  • the woman who gave birth to the child and either the only possible genetic parent other than the woman who gave birth or the intended parent of a child conceived through assisted reproduction sign a voluntary declaration of parentage at the hospital before the birth certificate is submitted for registration
  • or they sign the form later or legally establish paternity through the courts, and pay a fee to alter the birth certificate.

For more information on voluntarily acknowledging parentage:

Parentage Opportunity Program (POP)

For information on altering a birth certificate to add or change the other parent’s name, you may contact the Office of the Family Law Facilitator for assistance or contact the CA Department of Public Health Office of Vital Records at (916) 445-2684 or by email at VRmail@cdph.ca.gov for detailed instructions and fee information.

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