California Paternity Statutes

Chapter 3. Establishment of Paternity by Voluntary Declaration.

California Family Code, sections 7570-7577

7570. The Legislature hereby finds and declares as follows:

(a) There is a compelling state interest in establishing paternity for all children. Establishing paternity is the first step toward a child support award, which, in turn, provides children with equal rights and access to benefits, including, but not limited to, social security, health insurance, survivors' benefits, military benefits, and inheritance rights. Knowledge of family medical history is often necessary for correct medical diagnosis and treatment. Additionally, knowing one's father is important to a child's development.

(b) A simple system allowing for establishment of voluntary paternity will result in a significant increase in the ease of estab-lishing paternity, a significant increase in paternityestablishment, an increase in the number of children who have greater access to child support and other benefits, and a significant decrease in the time and money required to establish paternity due to the removal of the need for a lengthy and expensive court process to determine and establish paternity and is in the public interest.

7571. (a) On and after January 1, 1995, upon the event of a live birth, prior to an unmarried mother leaving any hospital, the person responsible for registering live births under Section 102405 of the Health and Safety Code shall provide to the natural mother and shall attempt to provide, at the place of birth, to the man identified by the natural mother as the natural father, a voluntary declaration of paternity together with the written materials described in Section 7572. Staff in the hospital shall witness the signatures of parents signing a voluntary declaration of paternity and shall forward the signed declaration to the Department of Child Support Services within 20 days of the date the declaration was signed. A copy of the declaration shall be made available to each of the attesting parents.

(b) No health care provider shall be subject to any civil, criminal, or administrative liability for any negligent act or omission relative to the accuracy of the information provided, or for filing the declaration with the appropriate state or local agencies.

(c) The local child support agency shall pay the sum of ten dollars ($10) to birthing hospitals and other entities that provide prenatal services for each completed declaration of paternity that is filed with the Department of Child Support Services, provided that the local child support agency and the hospital or other entity providing prenatal services has entered into a written agreement that specifies the terms and conditions for the payment as required by federal law.

(d) If the declaration is not registered by the person responsible for registering live births at the hospital, it may be completed by the attesting parents, notarized, and mailed to the Department of Child Support Services at any time after the child's birth.

(e) Prenatal clinics shall offer prospective parents the opportunity to sign a voluntary declaration of paternity. In order to be paid for their services as provided in subdivision (c), prenatal clinics must ensure that the form is witnessed and forwarded to the Department of Child Support Services within 20 days of the date the declaration was signed.

(f) Declarations shall be made available without charge at all local child support agency offices, offices of local registrars of births and deaths, courts, and county welfare departments within this state. Staff in these offices shall witness the signatures of parents wishing to sign a voluntary declaration of paternity and shall be responsible for forwarding the signed declaration to the Department of Child Support Services within 20 days of the date the declaration was signed.

(g) The Department of Child Support Services, at its option, may pay the sum of ten dollars ($10) to local registrars of births and deaths, county welfare departments, or courts for each completed declaration of paternity that is witnessed by staff in these offices and filed with the Department of Child Support Services. In order to receive payment, the Department of Child Support Services and the entity shall enter into a written agreement that specifies the terms and conditions for payment as required by federal law. The Department of Child Support Services shall study the effect of the ten dollar ($10) payment on obtaining completed voluntary declaration of paternity forms and shall report to the Legislature on any recommendations to change the ten dollar ($10) optional payment, if appropriate, by January 1, 2000.

(h) The Department of Child Support Services and local child support agencies shall publicize the availability of the declarations. The local child support agency shall make the declaration, together with the written materials described in subdivision (a) of Section 7572, available upon request to any parent and any agency or organization that is required to offer parents the opportunity to sign a voluntary declaration of paternity. The local child support agency shall also provide qualified staff to answer parents' questions regarding the declaration and the process of establishing paternity.

(i) Copies of the declaration and any rescissions filed with the Department of Child Support Services shall be made available only to the parents, the child, the local child support agency, the county welfare department, the county counsel, the State Department of Health Services, and the courts.

(j) Publicly funded or licensed health clinics, pediatric offices, Head Start programs, child care centers, social services providers, prisons, and schools may offer parents the opportunity to sign a voluntary declaration of paternity. In order to be paid for their services as provided in subdivision (c), publicly funded or licensed health clinics, pediatric offices, Head Start programs, child care centers, social services providers, prisons, and schools shall ensure that the form is witnessed and forwarded to the Department of Child Support Services.

(k) Any agency or organization required to offer parents the opportunity to sign a voluntary declaration of paternity shall also identify parents who are willing to sign, but were unavailable when the child was born. The organization shall then contact these parents within 10 days and again offer the parent the opportunity to sign a voluntary declaration of paternity.

7572. (a) The Department of Child Support Services, in consultation with the State Department of Health Services, the California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, and other affected health provider organizations, shall work cooperatively to develop written materials to assist providers and parents in complying with this chapter. This written material shall be updated periodically by the Department of Child Support Services to reflect changes in law, procedures, or public need.

(b) The written materials for parents which shall be attached to the form specified in Section 7574 and provided to unmarried parents shall contain the following information:
(1) A signed voluntary declaration of paternity that is filed with the Department of Child Support Services legally establishes paternity.
(2) The legal rights and obligations of both parents and the child that result from the establishment of paternity.
(3) An alleged father's constitutional rights to have the issue of paternity decided by a court; to notice of any hearing on the issue of paternity; to have an opportunity to present his case to the court, including his right to present and cross-examine witnesses; to have an attorney represent him; and to have an attorney appointed to represent him if he cannot afford one in a paternity action filed by a local child support agency.
(4) That by signing the voluntary declaration of paternity, the father is voluntarily waiving his constitutional rights.

(c) Parents shall also be given oral notice of the rights and responsibilities specified in subdivision (b). Oral notice may be accomplished through the use of audio or videotape programs developed by the Department of Child Support Services to the extent permitted by federal law.

(d) The Department of Child Support Services shall, free of charge, make available to hospitals, clinics, and other places of birth any and all informational and training materials for the program under this chapter, as well as the paternity declaration
form. The Department of Child Support Services shall make training available to every participating hospital, clinic, local registrar of births and deaths, and other place of birth no later than June 30, 1999.

(e) The Department of Child Support Services may adopt regulations, including emergency regulations, necessary to implement this chapter.

7573. Except as provided in Sections 7575, 7576, and 7577, a completed voluntary declaration of Paternity, as described in Section 7574, that has been filed with the Department of Child Support Services shall establish the paternity of a child and shall have the same force and effect as a judgment for paternity issued by a court of competent jurisdiction. The voluntary declaration of paternity shall be recognized as a basis for the establishment of an order for child custody, visitation, or child support.

7574. (a) The voluntary declaration of paternity shall be executed on a form developed by the Department of Child Support Services in consultation with the State Department of Health Services, the California Family Support Council, and child support advocacy groups.

(b) The form described in subdivision (a) shall contain, at a minimum, the following:
(1) The name and the signature of the mother.
(2) The name and the signature of the father.
(3) The name of the child.
(4) The date of birth of the child.
(5) A statement by the mother that she has read and understands the written materials described in Section 7572, that the man who has signed the voluntary declaration of paternity is the only possible father, and that she consents to the establishment of paternity by signing the voluntary declaration of paternity.
(6) A statement by the father that he has read and understands the written materials described in Section 7572, that he understands that by signing the voluntary declaration of paternity he is waiving his rights as described in the written materials, that he is the biological father of the child, and that he consents to the establishment of paternity by signing the voluntary declaration of paternity.
(7) The name and the signature of the person who witnesses the signing of the declaration by the mother and the father.

7575. (a) Either parent may rescind the voluntary declaration of paternity by filing a rescission form with the Department of Child Support Services within 60 days of the date of execution of the declaration by the attesting father or attesting mother, whichever signature is later, unless a court order for custody, visitation, or child support has been entered in an action in which the signatory seeking to rescind was a party. The Department of Child Support Services shall develop a form to be used by parents to rescind the declaration of paternity and instruction on how to complete and file the rescission with the Department of Child Support Services. The form shall include a declaration under penalty of perjury completed by the person filing the rescission form that certifies that a copy of the rescission form was sent by any form of mail requiring a return receipt to the other person who signed the voluntary declaration of paternity. A copy of the return receipt shall be attached to the rescission form when filed with the Department of Child Support Services. The form and instructions shall be written in simple, easy to understand language and shall be made available at the local family support office and the office of local registrar of births and deaths. The department shall, upon written request, provide to a court or commissioner a copy of any rescission form filed with the department that is relevant to proceedings before the court or commissioner.

(b) (1) Notwithstanding Section 7573, if the court finds that the conclusions of all of the experts based upon the results of the genetic tests performed pursuant to Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 7550) are that the man who signed the voluntary declaration is not the father of the child, the court may set aside the voluntary declaration of paternity unless the court determines that denial of the action to set aside the voluntary declaration of paternity is in the best interest of the child, after consideration of all of the following factors:
(A) The age of the child.
(B) The length of time since the execution of the voluntary declaration of paternity by the man who signed the voluntary declaration.
(C) The nature, duration, and quality of any relationship between the man who signed the voluntary declaration and the child, including the duration and frequency of any time periods during which the child and the man who signed the voluntary declaration resided in the same household or enjoyed a parent-child relationship.
(D) The request of the man who signed the voluntary declaration that the parent-child relationship continue.
(E) Notice by the biological father of the child that he does not oppose preservation of the relationship between the man who signed the voluntary declaration and the child.
(F) The benefit or detriment to the child in establishing the biological parentage of the child.
(G) Whether the conduct of the man who signed the voluntary declaration has impaired the ability to ascertain the identity of, or get support from, the biological father.
(H) Additional factors deemed by the court to be relevant to its determination of the best interest of the child.
(2) If the court denies the action, the court shall state on the record the basis for the denial of the action and any supporting facts.
(3)

(A) The notice of motion for genetic tests under this section may be filed not later than two years from the date of the child's birth by a local child support agency, the mother, the man who signed the voluntary declaration as the child's father, or in an action to determine the existence or nonexistence of the father and child relationship pursuant to Section 7630 or in any action to establish an order for child custody, visitation, or child support based upon the voluntarydeclaration of paternity.
(B) The local child support agency's authority under this subdivision is limited to those circumstances where there is a con-flict between a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity and a judgment of paternity or a conflict between two or more voluntary acknowledgments of paternity.

(4) The notice of motion for genetic tests pursuant to this section shall be supported by a declaration under oath submitted by the moving party stating the factual basis for putting the issue of paternity before the court.

(c) (1) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prejudice or bar the rights of either parent to file an action or motion to set aside the voluntary declaration of paternity on any of the grounds described in, and within the time limits specified in, Section 473 of the Code of Civil Procedure. If the action or motion to set aside a judgment is required to be filed within a specified time period under Section 473 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the period within which the action or motion to set aside the voluntary declaration of paternity must be filed shall commence on the date that the court makes an initial order for custody, visitation, or child support based upon a voluntary declaration of paternity.
(2) The parent or local child support agency seeking to set aside the voluntary declaration of paternity shall have the burden of proof.
(3) Any order for custody, visitation, or child support shall remain in effect until the court determines that the voluntary declaration of paternity should be set aside, subject to the court's power to modify the orders as otherwise provided by law.
(4) Nothing in this section is intended to restrict a court from acting as a court of equity.
(5) If the voluntary declaration of paternity is set aside pursuant to paragraph (1), the court shall order that the mother, child, and alleged father submit to genetic tests pursuant to Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 7550). If the court finds that the conclusions of all the experts, as disclosed by the evidence based upon the genetic tests, are that the person who executed the voluntary declaration of paternity is not the father of the child, the question of paternity shall be resolved accordingly. If the person who executed the declaration as the father of the child is not excluded as a possible father, the question of paternity shall be resolved as otherwise provided by law. If the person who executed the declaration of paternity is ultimately determined to be the father of the child, any child support that accrued under an order based upon the voluntary declaration of paternity shall remain due and owing.
(6) The Judicial Council shall develop the forms and procedures necessary to effectuate this subdivision.

7576. The following provisions shall apply for voluntary declarations signed on or before December 31, 1996.

(a) Except as provided in subdivision (d), the child of a woman and a man executing a declaration of paternity under this chapter is conclusively presumed to be the man's child. The presumption under this section has the same force and effect as the presumption under Section 7540.

(b) A voluntary declaration of paternity shall be recognized as the basis for the establishment of an order for child custody or support.

(c) In any action to rebut the presumption created by this section, a voluntary declaration of paternity shall be admissible as evidence to determine paternity of the child named in the voluntary declaration of paternity.

(d) The presumption established by this chapter may be rebutted by any person by requesting blood or genetic tests pursuant to Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 7550). The notice of motion for blood or genetic tests pursuant to this section shall be supported by a declaration under oath submitted by the moving party stating the factual basis for placing the issue of paternity before the court. The notice of motion for blood tests shall be made within three years from the date of execution of the declaration by the attesting father, or by the attesting mother, whichever signature is later. The two-year statute of limitations specified in subdivision (b) of Section 7541 is inapplicable for purposes of this section.

(e) A presumption under this chapter shall override all statutory presumptions of paternity except a presumption arising under Section 7540 or 7555.

7577. (a) Notwithstanding Section 7573, a voluntary declaration of paternity that is signed by a minor parent or minor parents shall not establish paternity until 60 days after both parents have reached the age of 18 years or are emancipated, whichever first occurs.

(b) A parent who signs a voluntary declaration of paternity when he or she is a minor may rescind the voluntary declaration of paternity at any time up to 60 days after the parent reaches the age of 18 or becomes emancipated whichever first occurs.

(c) A voluntary declaration of paternity signed by a minor creates a rebuttable presumption of paternity until the date that it establishes paternity as specified in subdivision (a).

(d) A voluntary declaration of paternity signed by a minor shall be admissible as evidence in any civil action to establish paternity of the minor named in the voluntary declaration.

(e) A voluntary declaration of paternity that is signed by a minor shall not be admissible as evidence in a criminal prosecution for violation of Section 261.5 of the Penal Code.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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