How Paternity is Established
In the process of establishing paternity, the mother may be asked some questions about her intimate relationship with the father. These questions may be avoided if the alleged father appears at the San Mateo County DCSS for an interview, admits paternity and cooperates in the establishment of paternity. When this occurs San Mateo County DCSS will prepare a legal document called a Stipulation. This Stipulation will indicate that the mother and alleged father agree that he is the father of the child. Once the Stipulation is signed by both parents, it will be sent for filing with the Court. Once the Stipulation is filed, it becomes a legal document establishing the paternity of the child.
If the alleged father will not cooperate San Mateo County DCSS may establish paternity without the father's assistance. If the alleged father fails to answer a legal complaint that he is the father, the court can name him the father by default. Or, if the alleged father disagrees with or contests the claim that he is the father, paternity will be determined after a court-ordered paternity test has been administered.
When the alleged father is not willing to cooperate, San Mateo County DCSS needs as much information as possible about the alleged father including:
- Facts about the mother's relationship with him, her pregnancy and the child's birth
- Whether or not the alleged father ever provided any money for the child
- Whether or not the alleged father ever admitted in any way that the child was his (for example: through letters or gifts)
- A picture of the alleged father with the child, if available
- Any information from others who could confirm the mother and alleged father's relationship; - his home and business address
- Names and addresses of his previous employers
- Whether or not the child was conceived in California, and if the child ever lived in California
Establishing Paternity via the Paternity Opportunity Program.
In an effort to create a legal "link" between unmarried fathers and their children, the California Department of Social Services joined other states, in a partnership with licensed hospitals and clinics with birthing facilities, to establish the Paternity Opportunity Program (POP). This voluntary in-hospital paternity acknowledgment program, implemented in January of 1995, involves approximately 360 of California's licensed hospitals and clinics. Unmarried new parents may sign a paternity form at the hospital immediately following the birth of their child. This form is called a Declaration of Paternity. Signing this form will make the process of legally establishing paternity easier and faster in most cases. The POP program has since been expanded local child support agencies, prenatal clinics, county welfare offices, local vital records offices, and courts. Parents may sign the Paternity Declaration after they leave the hospital by going to one of these agencies.
As a result of federal welfare reform legislation effective January 1, 1997, if the parents of a child are not legally married, the father's name will NOT be added to the birth certificate unless they:
- Sign a Declaration of Paternity in the hospital,
- Sign the Declaration of Paternity later or legally establish paternity through the courts. A fee may be required to amend the birth certificate.