What is a Voluntary Declaration of Parentage (VDOP)?
A Voluntary Declaration of Parentage (VDOP) is a government form two parents can sign to create a legal parent-child relationship between a child and parent. It is often signed at the hospital when a child is born, during which both parents’ names will go on the child’s birth certificate.
Parents are also able to sign the declaration later at any of the following agencies:
- Local Child Support Agency
- Registrar of Births
- Family Law Facilitator at your local superior court, or
- Welfare Offices
Once the Voluntary Declaration of Parentage (VDOP) is signed, the form must be filed with the California Department of Child Support Services Parentage Opportunity Program to be effective. A properly signed declaration of parentage or paternity has the same effect as a court order establishing parentage for the child, without either parent having to go to court.
Be aware once parentage is established, it can be difficult or impossible to undo — even if genetic testing later shows that the father is not the biological parent of the child. After parentage is established, each parent has:
- An equal responsibility to support the child, and
- An equal right to custody of the child.
What if you change your mind after signing a declaration of parentage?
If you or the other parent change your mind after signing the declaration of parentage, the parent wishing to cancel his or her declaration must complete a California Voluntary Declaration of Parentage (VDOP) – Rescission to rescind (cancel) the declaration of parentage.
The parent wishing to cancel the declaration of parentage must file the rescission form with the Department of Child Support Services within 60 days from the date they signed the declaration of parentage. Only one (1) parent needs to sign and file the form, but the other parent must be formally notified by certified mail with the return receipt requested.
Generally, if it has been more than 60 days from the date a parent has signed the declaration of paternity, either parent must submit the request within 2 years of the date the declaration was filed with the Department of Child Support Services Opportunity Program, and either parent must prove they signed the declaration because of fraud, mistake, or coercion.
If you want to establish a parental relationship or to cancel your declaration of parentage because you determined you are not the biological parent of a minor child, complete the form below to schedule a free consultation to find out what your options are!
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