Establishing Paternity

What is a Declaration of Paternity?


What is it?

A form that when you complete, has the same effect as a court order as it establishes who the legal parents are of a child.

What does it do?

Since it establishes who are the child’s legal parents are, a parent can go to court and ask for orders to be made for the care of the child including but not limited to custody, visitation, and child support.

When is it signed?

    AT BIRTH: The parents can sign a declaration at the hospital when the child is born. If the parents sign at the hospital, the father’s name will go on the child’s birth certificate, and the mother does not need to go to court to prove who the father of the child is.
    LATER, AFTER BIRTH: The declaration can also be signed later. If the parents sign it after the child’s birth certificate has been issued, a new birth certificate can be issued with the father’s name.
    Once the declaration is signed, the form must be filed with the California Department of Child Support Services Paternity Opportunity Program (POP) in order to be effective. After a signed Declaration of Paternity is filed with the court, the judge can make orders for custody, visitation, and support. [2671]

How do I Get A Copy?

If you filed a Declaration of Paternity and want a copy of it, you can either complete a Request for a Filed Declaration of Paternity (CS 918) or send a letter to the Department of Child Support Services- POP Unit. If you use a letter for your request, please include all the identifying information about the child and parents shown above. Also include your name, mailing address and signature since you are making the request. See Appendix J, PG. 821 for more information.

Can I cancel it?

Possibly, but it will depend on several factors. See Appendix J, PG. 821 for more information on cancelling your Declaration of Paternity.[2672]

A Declaration of Paternity is a form used in California that, when signed by both parents, establishes them as the legal parents of the child. It is used when parents of a child who are not married want to establish themselves as the child’s legal parent. A properly signed Declaration of Paternity has the same effect as a court order from the judge. [2673]

Where can I get help in establishing parentage?

Your Local Child Support Agency (LCSA) can bring an action to establish the paternity/ parentage of your child. As part of this action, they will ask the court for a child support order. This service is free and is available to both parents. To begin, call the LCSA and ask for an appointment to open a case for parentage and support. You can open a case during the pregnancy and a genetic test can be ordered (if the other person denies being the parent) after the child is born. Also, when one parent is on welfare for the children (for example, if they receive Cal-Works or Medi-Cal), the LCSA automatically gets involved and opens a case.[2674] You may also want to contact your local department of child support services, registrar of births, family law facilitator or welfare office.

IMPORTANT: The local child support agency (LCSA) can be a helpful resource but they are not your lawyers and the information you provide will not be kept secret (confidential). The LSCA can also share certain information to other agencies, the other parent or your employer. If you need more advice or privacy, it would be best to contact a lawyer and/or your local legal aid office. [2675]


  1. 2671

    Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, “Incarcerated Parents Manual,” pg. 22, (updated 2015), available at

  2. 2672

    Judicial Council Of Cal, “Establishing Parentage/Paternity,” (2015),

  3. 2673

    Cal. Fam. Code § 7573.

  4. 2674

    Judicial Council Of Cal., “Establishing Parentage/Paternity,” (2015),

  5. 2675

    Judicial Council Of Cal., “Establishing Parentage/Paternity,” (2015),