Serve Notice of Alleged Paternity

Before you can adopt your stepchild, the alleged father must sign a consent to the adoption, waive his right to further notice, or sign a denial of paternity. If the alleged father does not or will not sign one of these, you then need to serve him with a document called Notice of Alleged Paternity.

Before you start

The Notice of Alleged Paternity informs the alleged father of the intent to adopt and requires him to respond within 30 days of receipt of the Notice. In order to move forward with the adoption, you must prepare and properly serve this Notice on the alleged father.

Prepare and serve a Notice of Alleged Paternity

  • Prepare the Notice of Alleged Paternity

    This sample Notice includes the language you’ll need to use. Fill in the blank sections with your information as well as the child’s information.


    When you have created this Notice, you’ll make two copies of it.

  • Serve the alleged father with the Notice

    If the alleged father is in California, you must properly serve him with the Notice.

    To serve the alleged father with a Notice of Alleged Paternity, you must have another adult (not you) hand the other parent a copy of the Notice. This person is your server. Your server must complete a form and you must file it with the court to prove they delivered the papers. 

    Your server must be: 

    • 18 or over, and 

    • Not part of your case 

    Your server can be: 

    • Someone you know 

    • The county sheriff (in most, not all, counties) 

    • A professional process server you hire 

    The sheriff charges to serve papers unless you have a fee waiver.

    Your server should note the address where they gave the papers to the alleged parent, along with the date and time. The server needs this information to fill out a Proof of Service form.

    If the alleged father is residing outside of California, you must serve the Notice by using Certified, Return Receipt Requested. Obtain and keep a copy of the Proof of Service or the Domestic Certified Mail Receipt as this must be filed with the court.

    If you have already filed your Adoption Request and the case is already set for a hearing, the Notice must be served at least 10 days prior to the hearing date.
  • Contact the court

    Once the alleged father is served with the Notice, you must wait 30 days (you must wait an additional 10 days if it was mailed to him). Then you should contact your Self-Help Center for details on how to find out if the alleged father has filed anything. Usually, the court will let you know if something has been filed, but you may want to contact your Self-Help Center just in case.

    The alleged father may disagree with the adoption. He may argue that his consent is necessary or that he would qualify as a presumed parent. If the alleged father files or submits an objection, the court may set a hearing and require an investigation. The alleged father must then show up to this hearing and claim parental rights. The court will decide whether to elevate his status to presumed parent or hear more evidence. The court can also decide that his consent is not necessary or that even if his consent is necessary, it's in the child’s best interest that the adoption proceed.

Stepparent adoption

What's next

Provided nothing has been filed, you will next prepare an Application and Order Dispensing with further Notice of Adoption Planning. This document will ultimately terminate parental rights and may prevent the alleged parent from successfully contesting the adoption in the future.

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