The Rights of Unmarried Parents - California

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Definitions

Citation: Family Code §§ 7601; 7611

'Natural parent' means a nonadoptive parent, whether biologically related to the child or not. 'Parent and child relationship' means the legal relationship existing between a child and the child's parents incident to which the law confers or imposes rights, privileges, duties, and obligations. This section does not preclude a finding that a child has more than two parents.

A person is presumed to be the natural parent of a child if the person meets the following conditions:

  • The presumed parent and the child's other parent are or have been married to each other and the child is born during the marriage or within 300 days after the marriage is terminated.
  • Before the child's birth, the presumed parent and the child's birth parent have attempted to marry each other, although the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and either of the following is true:
    • If the attempted marriage could be declared invalid only by a court, the child is born during the attempted marriage or within 300 days after its termination.
    • If the attempted marriage is invalid without a court order, the child is born within 300 days after the termination of cohabitation.
  • After the child's birth, the presumed parent and the child's birth parent have married or attempted to marry each other, although the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and either of the following is true:
    • With their consent, the presumed parent is named as the child's other parent on the child's birth certificate.
    • The presumed parent is obligated to support the child under a written voluntary promise or by court order.
  • The presumed parent receives the child into their home and openly holds out the child as their natural child.

Use of Parentage Registries

Citation: Family Code §§ 7571; 7573

On and after January 1, 1995, upon the event of a live birth, prior to an unmarried birth parent leaving any hospital, the person responsible for registering live births shall provide to the person giving birth and shall attempt to provide, at the place of birth, to the person identified by the person giving birth as the only possible genetic parent other than the person who gave birth a voluntary declaration of parentage together with the written materials described in § 7572. Staff in the hospital shall witness the signatures of parents signing a voluntary declaration of parentage 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.

Except as provided in §§ 7573.5, 7575, 7576, 7577, and 7580, a completed voluntary declaration of parentage that complies with this chapter and that has been filed with the Department of Child Support Services is equivalent to a judgment of parentage of the child and confers on the declarant all rights and duties of a parent.

Alternate Means to Establish Parentage

Citation: Family Code §§ 7551; 7555; 7635.5

In a civil action or proceeding in which parentage is a relevant fact, the court may order the person who gave birth, the child, and alleged genetic parent to submit to genetic tests. A party's refusal to submit to the tests is admissible in evidence in any proceeding to determine parentage.

A person is identified as a genetic parent of a child if the results of genetic testing disclose both of the following:

  • The person has at least a 99-percent probability of parentage, using a prior probability of 0.50, as calculated by using the combined relationship index obtained in the testing.
  • A combined relationship index of at least 100 to 1.

In any action brought pursuant to this article, if the alleged other parent is present in court for the action, the court shall inform the alleged other parent that they have the right to have genetic testing performed to determine if they are the biological parent of the child. The court shall further inform the alleged other parent of their right to move to set aside or vacate a judgment of parentage within 2 years of the date they received notice of the action to establish parentage and that after that time has expired they may not move to set aside or vacate the judgment of parentage, regardless of whether genetic testing shows them not to be the biological parent of the child.

Required Information

Citation: Family Code § 7574

The voluntary declaration of parentage shall be executed on a form developed by the Department of Child Support Services in consultation with the Department of Health Services and groups addressing child support; child custody; assisted reproduction issues; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights. The form shall contain, at a minimum, the following:

  • The name and the signature of the person who gave birth to the child
  • The name and the signature of the person seeking to establish parentage
  • The name of the child
  • The date of birth of the child
  • A statement by the person who gave birth that the person is unmarried and understands the written materials described in § 7572, that the person who is signing the voluntary declaration of parentage is the only possible genetic parent other than the person who gave birth, and that the person who gave birth consents to the establishment of parentage by the genetic parent signing the voluntary declaration of parentage
  • A statement by the person signing the voluntary declaration of parentage that the person has read and understands the written materials described in § 7572, understands that by signing the voluntary declaration of parentage the person is waiving their rights as described in the written materials, that the person is the genetic parent of the child, and that the person consents to the establishment of parentage by signing the voluntary declaration of parentage
  • The name and the signature of the person who witnesses the signing of the declaration

Revocation of Claim to Parentage

Citation: Family Code § 7575

Either parent may rescind the voluntary declaration of parentage 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 parents, 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.

Access to Information

Citation: Family Code § 7571

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 Public Health, and the courts.