PARENTAGE OPPORTUNITY PROGRAM
“Parentage” is the recognition of a parent’s legal relationship to a child.
The Parentage Opportunity Program (POP) is a voluntary program for eligible parents to establish legal parentage free of charge. This significantly decreases the time and money required to establish legal parentage through the lengthy and expensive court process. A filed Voluntary Declaration of Parentage (VDOP) has the same force and effect as a judgement for parentage issued by a court.
Signing a VDOP will legally establish a child’s parentage if you are in any of the following situations:
To be ELIGIBLE, you must be EITHER:
- An unmarried birth parent and the only possible genetic father.
- Two people, married or unmarried, who had their child through assisted reproduction using sperm and/or egg donation, except if any donation was from their spouse.•
Signing a VDOP will not legally establish a child’s parentage if you are in any of the following situations:
You are NOT ELIGIBLE when your situation includes:
• The parents have a surrogacy agreement for this child.
• Uncertainty Exists about the Parentage of a Child Born Through Assisted Reproduction
• One of you originally did not intend to be a parent but have changed your mind and now want to be recognized as a parent.
• You agreed for this child to be conceived by sperm or egg donation, but there is uncertainty as to whether the child was produced by the donation or by sexual intercourse.
• Assisted reproduction, spousal donation
• This child was conceived by sperm or egg donation from your spouse.
• Another parent exists
• Someone else has already been declared to be a parent of this child by a court order.
• The birth parent has already signed a VDOP for this child with someone else.
• Someone other than the two people signing this form is an intended parent under an agreement for donated sperm or eggs.
• Someone else was married to and living with the birth parent at the time of conception and birth of this child; or this child was born during that marriage or within 300 days of the end of that marriage.
• The birth parent married someone after this child was born and that person is obligated (by a writing or court order) to pay support for this child.
(A VDOP filed in any of the above situations WILL NOT be legally valid)
The Voluntary Declaration of Parentage (VDOP) is a form for a birth parent and other parent to voluntarily sign to legally establish parentage. It has the same force and effect as a judgment for parentage issued by a court. Establishing parentage may give your child the right to:
- Social security benefits
- Military benefits
- Inheritance rights
- Health insurance
- Survivor’s benefits
For more information on how a Voluntary Declaration of Parentage can help you and your child, visit: https://childsupport.ca.gov/establishing-legal-parentage/
Upon the birth of a child, parents will be provided an opportunity to complete a Voluntary Declaration of Parentage (VDOP) at the birthing hospital. Parents may get a blank VDOP form from their local child support agency, local court (Family Law Facilitator), local registrar of births and deaths, and their local welfare office. Parents may also contact POP at email@example.com to request a blank form. The VDOP is not available electronically. Therefore, you must provide POP with a complete mailing address. POP will only mail the VDOP to the address provided.
Eligible parents should establish legal parentage as soon as possible by completing and signing a VDOP. Eligible parents will need to have their signatures witnessed by an authorized witnessing agency.
California Family Code §7571(f) provides a list of authorized witnessing agencies, which include:
- Birthing Hospitals – At the time of birth
- Local Child Support Agency Offices
- Offices of Local Registrar of Births and Deaths – Vital Records
- Courts – Family Law Facilitator
- County Welfare Departments – Health and Human Services Agency
To complete a VDOP at CSSD, contact us at (866) 901-3212 for more information. 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
Parents should not sign a VDOP if there is any doubt about who is the only possible genetic father. Either parent may request genetic testing before signing the VDOP. Genetic testing may not be requested by the parents who signed the VDOP once it has been filed.
Your local county child support agency can help you with genetic testing when paternity is at issue. Each county’s genetic testing process is different, so for accurate information, please contact the local child support agency in your county by calling 866-901-3212.
Either parent who signed the VDOP can cancel or rescind it within 60 days of the date the last parent signed, unless a court order for custody, visitation, or child support has been made in a case where the person seeking the cancellation is a party. Only one parent’s signature is required to rescind a VDOP. If either parent was under 18 when they signed the VDOP, different rules apply. Please visit www.childsupport.ca.gov under Services We Offer – Establishing Legal Parentage for more information and to obtain a copy of the form.
How to cancel a VDOP:
- The date must be within 60 days of signing the VDOP, unless you are under 18.
- Complete a “Rescission Form” (DCSS 0915) available online at www.childsupport.ca.gov or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, call (916) 464-1982
- Your signature must be witnessed by a Notary Public and you must submit the original form DCSS 0915, no photocopies accepted.
- The parent requesting cancellation must mail a copy to the other signer of the VDOP, even if you live together and share an address. Proof of mailing is required.
- Send original completed form and proof of mailing to: Parentage Opportunity Program, P.O. Box 419070, Rancho Cordova, CA 95741. The envelope must be postmarked within 60 calendar days of the date the VDOP was signed.
To obtain a free, certified copy of a filed VDOP, please submit a notarized Request for a Filed Voluntary Declaration of Parentage (Form DCSS 0918) to:
Parentage Opportunity Program
P.O. Box 419070
Rancho Cordova, CA 95741-9070
Upon receipt, the request will be processed within 5 business days and mailed to the address provided on the form.
You can find the form at: https://childsupport.ca.gov/parentage-forms-and-information/