Voluntary Declaration of Paternity in California

A voluntary declaration of paternity filed with the Department of Child Support Services has "the same force and effect as a judgment for paternity issued by a court of competent jurisdiction." (Family Code 7573; see Kevin Q. v. Lauren W. (2009) 175 Cal.App.4th 1119, 1141 "Until the voluntary declaration of paternity is set aside, it has the 'force and effect' of a judgment.".) But the voluntary declaration of paternity may be set aside if a court finds that genetic tests performed pursuant to the Uniform Act on Blood Tests to Determine Paternity (Family Code 7550 et seq.) show that the man who signed the voluntary declaration is not the father of the child. ( 7575, subd. (b); see Kevin Q., at p. 1138, fn. 13 7575 "authorizes a court to set aside a voluntary declaration of paternity based on genetic tests ordered in a section 7630 paternity action".) "Presumed fatherhood status under Family Code section 7611 entitles a man to custody of a child. ( 3010.) 'Although more than one individual may fulfill the statutory criteria that give rise to a presumption of paternity, "there can be only one presumed father."'" (Kevin Q., supra, 175 Cal.App.4th at p. 1131, quoting In re Jesusa V. (2004) 32 Cal.4th 588, (Jesusa V.).) If two or more paternity presumptions arise under section 7611 that conflict with each other, "the presumption which on the facts is founded on the weightier considerations of policy and logic controls." ( 7612, subd. (b).) Finally, "there are some circumstances where a man with no marital relationship to the mother, and who has not received the child into his home, may be declared a presumed father under principles of due process and equal protection if he has been prevented by the mother or by third parties from physically receiving the child into his home." (In re D.M. (2012) 210 Cal.App.4th 541, 545.) In Adoption of Kelsey S. (1992) 1 Cal.4th 816, the court held that the statutory scheme governing paternity decisions "violates the federal constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process for unwed fathers to the extent that the statutes allow a mother unilaterally to preclude her child's biological father from becoming a presumed father and thereby allowing the state to terminate his parental rights on nothing more than a showing of the child's best interest. If an unwed father promptly comes forward and demonstrates a full commitment to his parental responsibilities--emotional, financial, and otherwise--his federal constitutional right to due process prohibits the termination of his parental relationship absent a showing of his unfitness as a parent. Absent such a showing, the child's well-being is presumptively best served by continuation of the father's parental relationship. Similarly, when the father has come forward to grasp his parental responsibilities, his parental rights are entitled to equal protection as those of the mother." (Id. at p. 849.)