Focusing On Family Law – And You
If a mother wants to seek child support from a man she was not married to when the child was conceived and is not currently married to, she must establish paternity. Paternity in California is also referred to as parentage. Establishing parentage means legally designating the man as the child’s biological father.
Filling out a voluntary declaration of paternity is one way to establish parentage in California. When you fill out, sign and notarize a voluntary declaration of parentage, you are saying that you are the child’s biological father with all of the rights and responsibilities that entails.
Still, what happens if later on a situation comes up that makes you question whether you are the child’s biological father?
You may be able, under limited circumstances, to cancel a voluntary declaration of parentage. Doing so legally establishes that you are not your child’s biological parent and are no longer responsible for supporting the child.
How to cancel a voluntary declaration of paternity
To cancel a voluntary declaration of paternity, you can execute a form called the Voluntary Declaration of Parentage recission. This form can only be filed within 60 days of the date that the original declaration of paternity was signed.
If you want to rescind paternity by this method, you do not need your child’s other parent to also sign the form. You can do so on your own. However, your child’s other parent must receive notice via certified mail that the form has been filed.
Going to court to rescind parentage
If it has been more than 60 days since you signed the voluntary declaration of paternity, you must go to court to have parentage rescinded.
A court will not automatically agree to rescind parentage just because you asked them to. There must be a satisfactory reason for rescinding parentage.
A hearing will be held. If the judge approves your request at the hearing, you and your child’s mother must have DNA tests performed. If you were in a same sex relationship, there must be proof that you both did or did not intend to have a parental relationship with the child.
If the DNA test shows you are not the child’s biological father, paternity will be legally rescinded, and any child support orders will no longer remain in effect.
If the DNA test shows you are the child’s biological father, paternity will be established, and any child support orders will remain in effect.
If, at the hearing, your request is not approved, the original declaration of paternity will remain in effect and any child support orders will also remain in effect.
When a questionable situation arises
You may have initially voluntarily agreed you were your child’s biological parent, even without a DNA test.
Still, situations can come up in the future that make you question that belief. If so, you may want to rescind that agreement. Doing so may require going to court and your request may or may not be granted.
If you want to rescind parentage, it can help to make sure you understand the laws on establishing paternity in California and what the effects of recission are.