How to Cancel a Filed Declaration of Paternity in San Diego in 2013

Is it possible to legally cancel a filed voluntary declaration of paternity? There are certain procedural requirements that must be met, and consulting a qualified San Diego divorce attorney as soon as possible in the process may be of critical importance in fulfilling those requirements.

As a general rule, cancellation must occur with 60 days of signing; must be done prior to a court order for custody, visitation, or child support; and must include written notice to the other parent. The official notarized cancellation form is CS 915, available online in both English and Spanish. The form includes instructions for filing the form.

The CS 915 form notes that filing the form will not serve to automatically remove your name from the child’s birth certificate. In order to remove the name from the birth certificate, you will need a court order and an amendment request to the State Bureau of Vital Records.

Cancelling the voluntary declaration may delay establishment of paternity; however, the court may still compel you to undergo scientific DNA testing to address the question of paternity. And once paternity is established, the support obligation may still be backdated, resulting in a significant support arrearage.

A legal action to establish paternity in California follows a typical procedure as follows: One party (the Petitioner) files a request with the court to establish paternity issues, usually including support, custody and visitation. The other party (the Respondent) has 30 days to file a written response. An initial hearing is then set to determine temporary orders pending final determination of facts. The court may order DNA testing in order to determine paternity.

In most cases, scientific proof that you are not the child’s biological father will result in the dismissal of the paternity action against you. One exception, however, may occur if you were married to the child’s mother and have accepted the child as your own for a significant period of time. In those cases, the court may rule that it is in the best interest of the child to establish you as the child’s legal parent. In this case, you will have all rights and responsibilities of parenthood. If the time period passes for the cancellation of the voluntary declaration of paternity this may also serve to allow the law to continue with the legal relationship despite the evidence to the contrary of biological parentage. In addition, if a motion is filed and a judgment entered as to parentage, it is possible to make a motion to set aside but {again} strict time lines and statutes apply.

While many voluntary declarations of paternity are established at or near birth and may involve infant children who have not yet established emotional bonds with fathers as closely as with mothers, developing a relationship with both parents is of long-term importance to a child’s well-being, even if the parents are no longer able to sustain an intimate relationship.

There may be many highly charged emotional issues that arise in a disputed paternity case, and the prompt advice of a knowledgeable San Diego divorce attorney may be vital in protecting your rights under California family law. For a free initial consultation on paternity or other family law issues, contact us online or phone our office at 858-312-8500.