The Paternity Opportunity Program (POP) was begun in 1995. It was designed to encourage couples to make a paternity declaration soon after birth - usually in the hospital. Without such a declaration, if the child is born to unmarried parents, the name of the father cannot be put on the birth certificate. If the form is not signed at the hospital or clinic, it can be signed later. The Paternity Declaration can be signed at the County Departments of Human Assistance. Once the Paternity Declaration is signed the birth certificate can be amended to add the father's name for a small fee.
The parents have 60 days to change their mind and rescind the form. The form to do this is available at the child support agency or the local office of vital statistics.
The form may also be challenged in court until the child's second birthday. To do this requires a court order for genetic testing. The form may be challenged even after the second birthday of the child if the party seeking to set it aside can prove that they signed the declaration because of fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact.
NOTE: If the child support agency has proceeded with a paternity action and established paternity by court judgment, challenging the POP declaration will have no effect on that judgment and will not relieve the father of his parental responsibilities.
Because the Declaration of Paternity is a legal form that will formally establish legal paternity and commit the parents to 18 years of child support, it should only be signed if the parties are sure of what they are doing and why.
Find out more about the POP program.