Parentage FAQs

Parentage — Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can I get a copy of a filed Declaration of Paternity form?

A: Copies of filed Declarations of Paternity are available only to:

  • Parents;
  • The child;
  • County child support services agencies;
  • County welfare departments;
  • County counsels;
  • The State Department of Health Services,and
  • The courts.

A parent requesting a copy of a completed Declaration of Paternity form filed with the State of California should either complete a Request for a Filed Declaration of Paternity (CS 918) or send a letter to:

 DCSS — POP Unit
 P.O. Box 419070
 Rancho Cordova, CA 95741-9070

When completing the request form, you must indicate whether you are requesting a certified copy or faxed copy of the paternity declaration. Next, type or print the following information about the child and the parents:

  1. Child’s name (first, middle, and last)
  2. Child’s county of birth
  3. Child’s date of birth
  4. Mother’s name (first, middle, and last)
  5. Mother’s date of birth
  6. Other parent’s name (first, middle, and last)
  7. Other parent’s date of birth

The parent making the request (the requestor) must also type or print the following identifying information:

  1. Requestor’s name
  2. Requestor’s mailing address and telephone number
  3. Fax number (if requesting a faxed copy of the paternity declaration)
  4. The requestor’s relationship to the child
  5. Date of the request

The requestor must sign the request form — any requests not signed will not be processed. Allow 10 working days for your request to be processed.

If you have any questions about how to request a copy of a filed Declaration of Paternity form, please contact the State POP Coordinator at 866-249-0773. Or go to their website for more information.

Q: Can a parentage case be started while the mother is still pregnant, before the baby is born?

A: YES. The mother can open a case with the Department of Child Support Services when she is still pregnant.

If the person the mother believes is the child’s other biological parent denies it, a genetic (DNA) test can be ordered after the baby is born. (Some labs will only perform genetic tests after a child is 6 months of age or older.)

Genetic tests can be scheduled through the local child support agency (LCSA) in your county.

Q: Can I get child support if I am not sure who is the child’s other biological parent?

A: No. Paternity (also known as “parentage”) — a legal determination of who is the child’s other biological parent — must be established before child support can be ordered. Establishing paternity/parentage gives your child many rights, including child support, access to medical records, government benefits, and more. However, you can get CalWORKS without having established parentage.

Q: What if the child’s other biological parent leaves the state before it is proven that this person is actually the child’s other parent?

A: The local court may use information they have to decide parentage without him or her. If parentage is established without the alleged other parent’s cooperation, the court may order him or her to pay child support no matter where the person lives, even if he or she is not in California.

Q: The child’s biological parent does not have any money or a job to support our child. Why should I bother proving that he or she is the child’s other parent?

A: If you do not establish parentage, your child will not be able to get child support or health insurance even after the alleged other parent gets a job. Proving parentage as soon as possible makes collecting child support easier later on.

Q: What is DNA testing?

A: DNA is the biological material that determines a person’s physical characteristics. It is found in almost all of the cells in the body, and each person’s DNA is unique.

Some of a person’s DNA coding is inherited from the mother. Some of the DNA coding is inherited from the father. Therefore, by comparing the DNA coding of a mother, father, and child, their parental relationship can be established.

Samples of a person’s DNA can be taken by gently rubbing a sterile cotton squab (like a Q-tip) inside his or her mouth. Saliva contains DNA, as does the rest of the body.

Q: Do I have to pay for the DNA test?

A:

  • If the Department of Child Support Services performs the test, normally there is no charge to either named parent.
  • If the court orders the named parents to get DNA testing, there may be fees of several hundreds of dollars to have the testing done.
  • The court will NOT accept DNA tests done at home or in a private medical facility as evidence in a parentage case, unless the test has been ordered by the court.
  • If the court orders DNA testing, it will provide the named parents with the information they need to get the tests done.

Q: What is a “presumed” parent?

A: The law will presume a person is a child’s other parent under the following circumstances (unless proved otherwise to a court). For example, John Doe will be presumed to be the child’s other parent if:

  • He was married to the child’s mother when the child was conceived or born;
  • He attempted to marry the mother (even if the marriage was not valid) and the child was conceived or born during the “marriage";
  • He married the mother after the birth and agreed either to have his name on the birth certificate or to support the child; or
  • He welcomed the child into his home and openly acted as if the child was his own. This concept is called “parentage by estoppel” and means that the court can find that a man is the legal father, even if he is not the biological father, if he has always treated the child as his own.

Q: Who must I notify of the parentage case if the other parent is deceased?

A:  When one of the parents of a child is deceased and there are (1) no court orders in place about the children AND (2) no pending court cases about custody or guardianship of the child, the law requires that the person filing the parentage case give notice of the case to certain people related to the child. The reason for this law is to make sure that anyone who may have an interest in the children or the case has an opportunity to have a say in the case.

When a parent is deceased, the Summons and the Petition MUST be served on the following people:

  • the person or persons who have physical custody of the child (the people the child lives with),
and
  • the children's siblings, half-siblings, and the children's grandparents (on both sides).

And, if the person filing the parentage case is NOT the child's living parent, that parent must be served too, of course. 

You must follow these requirements carefully or your case may not move forward.

The papers can be served in person or by mail, or other way the court allows. If you cannot locate any of the people that must be served, let the court know your efforts to contact them and the court will either give you permission to serve them some other way, or will let you move forward without giving notice to the people that cannot be found.

IMPORTANT: If there is any type of court hearing coming up in the case and no orders have been made yet, you MUST serve all these people at least 15 days before the hearing.

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