Paternity and POP FAQ's


1.Why should paternity be established if the father has no money to support the child?  When the father starts working, he will be able to support the child. Establishing paternity as soon as possible will make collecting child support easier later on.

2.  Are there other benefits of establishing paternity?  Yes! Establishing paternity grants the child rights to certain social entitlements, such as social security, pension and/or veterans benefits, inheritance protection, and access to family medical records.  It is also necessary before custody and/or visitation can be established.

3.  What happens after paternity is established?  Once paternity is established, DCSS will establish a support order, in most cases.

4.  Can the POP declaration be signed by parents under the age of 18?  Yes.  There are no age requirements for parents to sign the POP declaration.  However, the declaration of paternity cannot establish legal fatherhood until 60 days after both parents have reached the ago of 18.

5.  What if he denies he is the father or says he's not sure?  Paternity may be determined after genetic tests are given to the mother, the child and the alleged father.  The San Francisco Department of Child Support Services has a genetic testing facility on site for these services. Test results are generally available in two to four weeks from the date the last person is sampled. The tests exclude men who are not the father and indicate the likelihood of paternity of a man who is not excluded. Genetic tests are very reliable, which is why so few paternity cases go to trial.

6.  Is there a minimum age for the genetic tests to be done on a child?  No.  Children of any age may be tested, although some laboratories will not take genetic samples from an infant six months of age or younger. The San Francisco Department of Child Support Services operates an on-site genetic testing facility using buccal swabs (a cotton swab applied to the inside of the cheek) for cell collection.

7. Despite the genetic tests, the alleged father still says he is not the father.  Will the case be closed?  No. If the genetic tests show that it is likely that he is the father, the matter will be set for hearing or trial and paternity will be decided. If the issue of paternity is to be tried, then DCSS will have to do additional investigation to prepare for trial. Once DCSS believes that it is prepared for trial, it will request that the court set the date for the trial. This process could take from a few weeks to more than a year, depending on the circumstances of the case.

8.  What happens if the father leaves the state before paternity is established?  If the alleged father is found and served a formal complaint, the local court will make a decision on the paternity question. At the same time, a court order to pay child support may be issued. This order can be enforced by any state. However, enforcement may take longer when the non-custodial parent lives outside of California.

9.  Can paternity be established for my child if the father lives in another state?

Yes. The county Department of Child Support Services will ask for a genetic test from the court in the other state. Also, a man can sign a Declaration of Paternity voluntarily declaring he is a child's father even if he lives in another state.

10.  I downloaded the Declaration of Paternity (CS 909) form from the POP website. Why does it say "SAMPLE ONLY" on the form?

The Declaration of Paternity (CS 909) form is a multi-page legal form with witnessing requirements; thus the official form only can be obtained from authorized agencies (see below).  A sample form is provided on the POP website for informational purposes but it cannot be used to acknowledge paternity. You can request the Declaration of Paternity form by sending your mailing address to The Declaration of Paternity form is also available at: Local Departments of Child Support Services, Local Registrars of Births and Deaths, County Family Law Facilitators Offices at all superior courts in California, and Licensed Birthing Units at public and private hospitals.