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parentage
Photo of a woman holding a baby

This page tells you about:

  1. What is and when to file an Action to Establish Parentage
  2. Forms you will need
  3. How to fill out and file your parentage forms
  4. How to get a judgment in your parentage case
  5. Who can view parentage cases?  
  1. What is and when to file an Action to Establish Parentage

    If you have children and are not married to the other parent, you must file a case to establish parentage. This means you are asking the court to say who the parents are. You are also allowed to ask for child support, custody and visitation orders at the same time. Either the mother, the father or the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS)  can file this kind of case.

    Because a parentage action says who the parents of a child are, it can give the child the right to support, claim inheritance or Social Security benefits.

    Remember: you are asking for a parentage judgment, not just custody or support orders.

  2. Forms you will need

    To establish parentage, fill out and file the forms below. Note: There are helpful video instructions for some family law forms. Click on the video links below.

    Click here if need temporary orders for child custody and visitation.
    Click here if you need temporary orders for child support.
    Click here if you need information about how to file for a Domestic Violence Restraining order.

    You can download all the forms you need to file a Parentage action for free. Just use the links in this section. For more help go to the Family Law Facilitator. Fill out your forms neatly in blue or black ink. Click here for forms on the Judicial Council State Form web page .

  3. How to fill out and file your parentage forms

    Step 1: Fill out the forms Fill out the forms. If you need help, go to the Family Law Facilitator. The parent who starts the case is the Petitioner. The other parent is the Respondent. After you fill out the forms, make 3 copies.

    Step 2: File the forms If you are filing parentage forms and asking for:
     
    • a Domestic Violence Restraining Order,
    • fee waiver, or
    • are filing a Request for Order that asks for emergency/temporary orders

    then file your forms with the Document Examiner.

    If you are filing parentage forms:

    • with a Request for Order and
    • are not asking for emergency/temporary orders

    then take your completed forms to your Calendar office and ask for a hearing date. Then file your papers at the Clerk's office. When you file your forms, the clerk will ask you to pay a fee. If you don’t have enough money to pay the fees, ask the clerk for a fee waiver packet. (See more about fee waivers.) Fill out the fee waiver forms, and turn your forms in to the Document Examiner. It will take 24 hours for the judge to decide if you pay the fees or not.

    >>> Check the Document Examiner Ex Parte List (for the courthouse where you submitted your papers) to find out if your paperwork is ready for pick up.

  4. Step 3: Serve the forms You must have someone personally serve the other parent with copies of the forms you filled out and filed. This includes:

    The person who serves the other parent must also serve a blank copy of:

    Remember: You cannot serve the papers yourself. Your papers can be served by an adult (over 18) who is not involved in your case OR a professional process server (see your telephone book).

    The person who serves the papers must complete a Proof of Service of Summons (State Form FL-115 ). The proof of service says he or she has delivered the papers to the other parent.

    If you need to serve papers to someone in custody, read this flyer: How to Serve Someone in Jail or Prison in California .

    Step 4: File the Proof of Service File the original and two copies of the Proof of Service at the Clerk’s Office as soon as possible.

  5. How to get a judgment in your parentage case

    • Contested

      The other party files a Response to Petition to Establish Parental Relationship (State Form FL-220) and asks for a blood test or does not agree with the custody and visitation orders you asked for. This may also happen at a Court hearing. You will be scheduled for a Case Management Conference where you can discuss your case with a judicial officer. For help with this process, see the Family Law Facilitator.

    • Agreement

      You and the other parent agree that you are both the child’s parents and want to write up an agreement. This may happen at a court hearing. Read more about court hearings. The Family Law Facilitator can help you write up your agreement and get it signed by a judge and filed with the court.

    • Default

      The other parent does not file a Response to your Petition to Establish Parental Relationship within 30 days after service.

      Fill out a Request For Entry of Default (State Form FL-165 ). This means you are asking the Court to say who the child’s parents are even though the other parent didn’t file a Response.

      • The Clerk’s Office will mail you a copy of your Request For Entry of Default if the Court entered the other party’s default.
         
      • Then, go to the Calendar Clerk's Office and ask for a hearing on the default calendar. (Hearings take place every Friday.)
         
      • Bring your completed Judgment (Uniform Parentage) (State Form FL-250 ) and Notice of Entry of Judgment (State Form FL-190 ) to the hearing.

      If you need help filling out these forms, go to the Family Law Facilitator.

  6. Who can view parentage cases?

    The information in cases is private. The only people who can look in the court file are the mother and father in the case.

    If you are either the mother or father in the case, and you want to look at the court file, you need to:
     
    • Bring a driver's license or government identification card with you
    • Go to the Records Department of the Family Clerk's Office

    FInd out the location of the Family Courthouse.

Also see Frequently Asked Questions regarding paternity.

© 2014 Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara