• How to Dispute Paternity in California

How to Dispute Paternity in California

Paternity disputes are common in California. Men often dispute paternity when they have reason to believe they may not be the child’s biological father. If you are questioning whether to challenge the paternity of your child, contact us for more information. Read on to learn more about how to dispute paternity in California.

How is Paternity Established in California

Paternity can be established in California as follows:

Signing a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity

Both parents will be required to sign the voluntary declaration of paternity. By signing this declaration, people declare that they are the legal parents of the child. The declaration can be signed at the hospital after the child is born allowing for the father’s name to be placed on the birth certificate. The declaration can also be signed at a later date which would require the birth certificate to be revised. The form can be obtained by contacting one of the following sources:

  1. askpop@dcss.ca.gov
  2. Local child support agency
  3. Registrar of births
  4. Family law facilitator
  5. Welfare office

Once the declaration is signed, the form must be filed with the California Department of Child Support Services Paternity Opportunity Program.

Obtain a Court Order of Paternity

In the alternative of signing a voluntary declaration, a person can also get a court order to establish paternity as well as an order for child support. Either parent can start a case to prove paternity. A parent seeking to prove paternity will need to file the following forms in the nearest court where the child resides:

  1. Petition to Establish Parental Relationship (Form FL-200)
  2. Summons – Petition for Custody and Support (Form FL-210)
  3. Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (Form FL-105)

California Statute of Limitations for Paternity

A statute of limitation limits the legal right of a person to file a lawsuit after a specified period. In California, paternity can be established up to 3 years after a child’s 18th birthday. If a person is married when their child is born, and he/her has doubts about paternity, a court order for a blood test can be obtained within 2 years of the child’s birth.  

The Paternity Disestablishment Bill of 2004

In 2004, California State Legislature passed the Paternity Disestablishment Bill of 2004. The bill expands the opportunity for the court to set aside/vacate a paternity judgment or voluntary declaration of paternity. The following types of cases can result in a judgment/declaration being set aside:

Paternity Declaration Cases

If a person signed a voluntary declaration of paternity as mentioned above, and later found out that he was not the biological father, he may want to file a motion to have the declaration set aside. There is a 2 year statute of limitation beginning as of the child’s birth to file the motion.

Paternity Default Judgments

If a paternity judgment was based on a default judgment, a parent can ask for it to be vacated or set aside. The time limitation to file a motion is within 2 years from the date the father should have known of the judgment of paternity.

Paternity Judgment

A paternity judgment can be vacated or set aside upon motion under the condition that the previously established father was determined to be the legal father without genetic testing having been conducted.

If the court vacates or set aside a paternity judgment or declaration, the payor of child will be relieved from making any future child support payments and all past due arrears.

Forms to Dispute Paternity

The following forms must be completed and filed in order to dispute paternity:

  1. Request for Hearing and Application to Set Aside Voluntary Declaration of Paternity (FL – 280)
  2. Proof of Personal Service (FL – 330)
  3. Order After Hearing on Motion to Set Aside Voluntary Declaration of Paternity (FL – 290)

Using A Non-Attorney to Dispute Parentage

If you are looking for help on how to dispute paternity in California, we can help! At A People’s Choice, we can help you draft and file all the documents you need to prove paternity, or have a paternity judgment or declaration set aside/vacated. Contact us at 800-747-2780 for more information on how we can help you.

Get help with your California legal documents today!

A People’s Choice can save you hundreds of dollars by preparing your legal documents instead of an expensive attorney!


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By |2018-01-18T15:47:20-07:00October 5th, 2015|Family Law, Paternity|8 Comments

About the Author:

Sandra M. McCarthy, founder of A People’s Choice Inc., has worked exclusively in the legal field since 1976. She served as the 2004-2005 President of CALDA (California Association of Legal Document Assistants). She obtained a Paralegal Certificate from the University of California, Santa Barbara. During her career in the legal field, she has worked as a freelance paralegal, law office manager and paralegal studies teacher, and has co-authored numerous legal publications and written hundreds of self-help legal articles. As a registered Legal Document Assistant, Sandy is dedicated to providing affordable, low-cost, self-help document preparation services for California consumers in all 58 counties.


  1. Angel March 12, 2019 at 12:44 pm

    I have a 13 year i have been paying child support since he was 1 year old but the older he gets the more he looks different from me he has blonde hair and light eyes and I do not or his mother either can i request a paternity test be done ?

    • Sandy McCarthy March 17, 2019 at 1:58 pm

      There is probably a statute of limitations on this. Talk to an attorney about this issue. If you are paying support, it would seem likely that legal paternity has already been established through the courts, even if you did not respond or participate in that process.

  2. Louise claire March 3, 2019 at 7:41 am

    The fathe od my child doesn’t want norhing to do with the baby. My child is lovimg eith me and he is with me, me fsther and the father talked that i will fully take responsilibity and he just want to sign a demisl of pstermitu so his rights can be terminated. But we dont know how to file a denial of paternity and where. WE need help to be able to file a denial of paternity.
    Note: My baby will NOT be adopted he will still be with me. the father just want to take off his rights thats all we are trying to do and no more than that.

    • Sandy McCarthy March 8, 2019 at 6:13 am

      There may be a court process to dispute paternity if the parties are not married. We can help with the paperwork. The father may want to confirm with a lawyer that he is eligible to use this process as there are certain timeframes within which he must file. Give us a call for help with the paperwork at 800-747-2780.

  3. Russell February 27, 2019 at 10:45 pm

    I recently found out a child who I thought was mine for the last 16 years is not mine. The mother of the child and I were married on her 8 month pregnancie because she said the baby was mine we separated 6 months after. I have been through the ringer with her for child support and so much verbal abuse from her for the last 16 years. The child wants nothing to do with me. Can I sue the mother for the 1000s that I have paid to her for this child.

    • Sandy McCarthy March 1, 2019 at 7:10 am

      Russell – I would talk to a lawyer about this.

  4. Melanie Consolacion February 14, 2019 at 5:47 am

    My husband and I were not together when I had my baby with my boyfriend. This was 3 years ago. So my boyfriend is the father but he is not on the birth certificate. I do not know why we waited so long to do so. But he would like to petition. But was is this two years within the child’s birth mean? Is it too late? and my husband knows the child is not his.

    • Sandy McCarthy February 14, 2019 at 8:32 pm

      Unfortunately we would not be able to give you legal advice with regard to this issue. I would recommend your boyfriend speaking to an attorney.

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