Establishing Legal Parentage

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Contact the Parentage Opportunity Program Team via Phone: 1-866-249-0773

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“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.

Please Note:  Effective January 1, 2020

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.

OR

  • 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:

  • Surrogacy
    • 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)

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

Genetic Testing

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.

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