Paternity (a legal determination of who the father is) must be established before child support can be ordered. Paternity gives your child many rights, including child support, access to medical records, government benefits and more.

When a married couple has a child conceived during the marriage, paternity does not need to be established - the law presumees the husband is the child's legal father. When an unmarried woman has a child, paternity needs to be established to provide the childs with the same legal rights as a child born to married parents. Also the court cannot order child support or determine custody or visitation until paternity has been legally established.

Reasons to Establish Paternity

  • Support from both parents
  • Medical and life insurance from either parent, if available
  • Social Security and veteran's benefit's, if available
  • Inheritance rights
  • Access to family medical history

Ways Paternity is Determined:

Paternity Opportunity Program (POP)

The Paternity Opportunity Program (POP) is a fast, free, and easy way to establish paternity. Unmarried parents may establish paternity by completing and signing a Declaration of Paternity at the hospital when the baby is born. Once both parents sign the form, the hospital sends the form to CA Child Support Services and paternity is established. Parents may also choose to sign a Declaration of paternity at a later date.


Both parents may agree (stipulate) to a child's paternity and arrange for child support payments. The parents may not have to attend court, but the court must approve the agreement.

Genetic Tests

Either parent can request a genetic test if biological proof of paternity is wanted before a mani s named the legal father. In that case, the LCSA or either parent can rquest a genetic test. Tehama County Child Support Services offers genetic testing in-office. If there is a dispute about paternity and the parties do not consent to genetic testing, the court can order the parties to submit to testing.

Proving Paternity in Court

If the alleged father refuses to cooperate with genetic testing, the court can establish paternity.