Paternity Opportunity Program
When a child is born to unmarried parents, the father does not automatically have the legal rights of a parent and will not be added to the birth certificate. To get legal rights as the father of the child, there are two options:
- Sign a Declaration of Paternity
- Get a court order which legally establishes paternity (fatherhood) and pay a fee to amend the birth certificate.
The Paternity Opportunity Program (POP) is a free and easy way to establish paternity without having to go to court.
- What is the declaration of paternity?
The Declaration of Paternity is a legal form that, once filed with the state, voluntarily establishes legal paternity (Fatherhood) and is the equivalent of a court order. Unmarried parents complete and sign the declaration after the child is born.
If you have questions, contact the San Diego POP coordinator at 858-650-5324 or by email at SDPOP@sdcounty.ca.gov.
- When and where can parents sign the declaration?
All hospitals in San Diego County participate in the POP program. After the baby is born, the unmarried mother and father will be asked if they want to complete the Declaration of Paternity. When parents complete the form in the hospital, the father’s name can be added to the child’s original birth certificate.
Parents can also complete the declaration at the following locations after they leave the hospital:
- Department of Child Support Services (7:30am – 4:00pm, Monday – Friday)
- Office of Vital Records (9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday)
Parents can also request the declaration be mailed to them and sign the forms later in front of a notary. To have the declaration mailed to you, please contact the office.
Military fathers-to-be on deployment can sign the declaration before the child is born if they cannot be present at the birth of their child. Proof of military orders must be provided and attached to the declaration. Click here for more information.
- How can we get a copy of the declaration?
To request a copy of the filed declaration, click here. Either parent must complete the request form or send a written request with signature indicating if a certified copy or a faxed copy is needed to:
California Department of Child Support Services
P.O. Box 41970
Rancho Cordova, CA 95741-9070
If writing a request, provide the following information:
- Child’s complete name, date of birth, and county of birth
- Mother’s and father’s complete names and dates of birth
- Name of the parent making the request
- Mailing address and phone number
- Fax number, if requesting a faxed copy
- Relationship to the child
- Original signature; It will not be processed without it.
Please allow 10 working days for your request to be processed.
If you have questions about the POP Program, contact the San Diego County POP Coordinator at 858-650-5324 or by email at SDPOP@sdcounty.ca.gov.
- How can we cancel the declaration?
Either parent may cancel or rescind the declaration by completing a Rescission of Paternity form. This form must be mailed to the California DCSS within 60 days of the original date the paternity declaration was signed.
You may get a copy of the rescission form by contacting the local DCSS or on the state DCSS web site.
Frequently Asked Questions
- I’m not 18 years old, can the baby’s father and I still sign a Declaration of Paternity?
Yes. However, the declaration will not establish paternity until 60 days after both parents have reached the age of 18 or are emancipated in accordance with the California Family Code.
- I am separated from my husband, but not divorced yet. Can my boyfriend, who is the baby’s biological father, sign the Declaration of Paternity?
No. The law presumes that as long as you are legally married, the husband is the father of the baby. Only the court can establish paternity with someone other than your legal husband.
- Can the Declaration of Paternity be submitted when a parent does not have current home address or a valid Social Security number?
Yes, address and Social Security number are optional.
- Can a father that is married to someone else sign a Declaration of Paternity?
Yes. The father, although married to someone else, can sign the Declaration of Paternity to have his name entered on the child’s birth certificate as the legal father.
- My boyfriend won’t be there when I have the baby. Can he sign the Declaration of Paternity before the baby is born?
No. Only active duty military fathers can sign the Declaration before the baby is born.
Military fathers need an official letter with military orders from their commanding officer stating they will be deployed when the baby is born.
For more information, contact the San Diego POP coordinator at 858-650-5324 or by email at SDPOP@sdcounty.ca.gov.
- Can parents complete a Declaration of Paternity when a child is born alive and then dies shortly after birth?
Yes. Parents may complete and sign a Declaration of Paternity when there is a live birth and the child dies shortly after birth.
- Can a Declaration of Paternity be completed when the father has died prior to the birth of the child?
No. If the unmarried father has died prior to the child’s birth, the father’s name cannot be added to the birth certificate using a Declaration of Paternity.
Paternity must be established through the court process. The mother should contact an attorney or a Family Law Facilitator to determine how to proceed with the process of establishing paternity for the child.
- Can the biological parents sign the Declaration of Paternity form if the child is going to be adopted?
Yes. The biological parents are the only ones that can sign the Declaration of Paternity form.
- Can same sex couples that conceive a child through artificial insemination sign a Declaration of Paternity?
No. The law states that only the biological mother of the child and the man identified as the biological father may sign the Declaration of Paternity.
- What do I do if a default court order established paternity, but I don’t think I am the child’s biological father?
AB 252 allows the court to order genetic testing (under certain circumstances) to determine whether the previously established father is the biological father.
Contact an attorney or the Family Law Facilitator for legal assistance.