Department of Child Support Services

Paternity Opportunity Program (POP)


California's Paternity Opportunity Program (POP) California's Paternity Opportunity Program (POP) made headlines in the San Diego Tribune on August 21, 2002 with the announcement that "California's Voluntary Paternity Opportunity Program achieves record 750,000 signed Declarations."

The POP Program allows fathers to establish legal paternity without having to go to court. Under legislation enacted in 1997 an unmarried father is required to sign a paternity declaration at the hospital at the time of the child's birth in order for his name to appear on the child's birth certificate.

The Declaration of Paternity is a legal document signed by both parents. By establishing paternity, a child receives the legal rights and privileges of a child born within a marriage. Paternity makes the father responsible for support of the child and give the father parental rights such as the right to seek custody and visitation in a future court action. Children gain inheritance rights, access to benefits such as social security, health and life insurance and the right to both parents medical history. Children also gain legal documentation of who their parents are.

Under the Paternity Opportunity Program, a paternity declaration is presented to parents in the hospital or birthing center at the time the child's birth certificate is presented. Signing the Declaration of Paternity is voluntary. Either parent may cancel the declaration within 60 days. After that parents must go to court to have the declaration rescinded. If the parents do not sign the declaration at the hospital or birthing center they may do so afterward at the Department of Child Support Services, Local Registrar of Births & Deaths and Cal-Works. The success of the POP Program is demonstrated by the 750,000 signed Paternity Declarations.