While most people have both their father and mother’s names on their birth certificate, some people don’t. Your original birth certificate may have just your mother’s name on it, which can lead you to wonder why. While the case is often that your mother was not in a relationship with the father when the birth record was made, some birth certificates don’t include the father’s name, even in the case of a married couple.
In this article, we’ll cover reasons why your father’s name might not be on your birth certificate, what it means for you, and how you can take steps to change the birth record if desired.
Why Isn’t My Father’s Name on My Birth Certificate?
There are three primary reasons your father’s name might not be on your birth certificate. He wasn’t present during the birth, your parents weren’t together at the time, or a legislation error may have omitted his name.
Purposeful Omission – If your parents weren’t together, your mother may have chosen to leave your father’s name off your original birth certificate. In most cases, the hospital or vital records office will require that the father and mother sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity to put the father on the birth certificate. The father signs the form to agree that he accepts paternal rights and agrees that he is legally the child’s father. The mother signs to agree that she believes the man is the father and wants him to have full parental rights. This form must then be witnessed and signed by 2 uninterested parties, typically provided by the hospital. There are many reasons that one or the other party may not sign, which would mean that the father’s name would not be on the original birth certificate. If the father was not present at the time of birth and your parents never updated your birth certificate, your father’s name would not be on your copy of the birth certificate.
Legislation Error – In some cases, your parents may have signed an Acknowledgement of Paternity after the original date. Your copy may not have your father’s name, but the version at the vital records office may. In other cases, it may have been omitted completely because of a legislation error.
What Are the Legal Implications of Not Having Your Father’s Name on Your Birth Certificate?
U.S. birth certificates are used to prove parental rights and are one of several certified vital records essential to claiming your rights as a U.S. citizen. Not having your father’s name on your birth certificate will primarily affect you as a minor, but will affect your ability to claim insurance, inheritance, and death benefits.
You will need the father’s name on the birth certificate to:
- Prove identity – Any child under the age of 18 will need any parent listed on the birth certificate present to sign documents for acquiring a passport, attending most schools, or getting a driver’s license. If the father is not on the birth certificate, he doesn’t have to be there.
- Claim child support
- Claim death benefits
- Receive insurance coverage
The father can assert his parental rights at any time. If your father has deceased and you wish to claim death benefits, you can no longer update the birth record.
How Can You Update a Birth Certificate with the Father’s Name?
If your father’s name isn’t on your birth certificate for whatever reason, you can choose to update it. However, the specific process will vary depending on the state.
You will need:
- An original copy of the birth certificate. This should be a certified copy. If you don’t have it, use VitalRecordsOnline to order online birth certificates.
- An affidavit signed by both parents acknowledging the paternity
- Most states charge a fee between $20 and $75 to be paid via check or money order
One you have these documents, you can make an appointment with the vital records office to request a birth certificate replacement. In most cases, it will take up to a month to receive your birth certificate replacement. The form, which is typically a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage allows anyone to claim the right of paternity regardless of gender – even if you are adopted. You may need to have this document certified for legal reasons. You cannot get a fast birth certificate replacement if you are changing a name or adding a parent, so plan to apply at least 3 weeks before you need the certificate.
Can I Order Birth Certificates Online? – If you are over 21 or have your parent’s help, you can order a new copy of your birth certificate online. You will need your photo ID to do so. However, you will have to apply to the Vital Records Office to make changes.
Can You Remove a Parent from Your Birth Certificate?
In most cases, you can have the second parent (not the mother) removed from the original copy of the birth certificate. However, you will have to acquire court verified paternity documents showing that the person claiming paternity is not your father.
It may be necessary to remove a father from the birth certificate if the child is a minor (under 18) and the father is unavailable to sign permissions. For example, if the father is absent, most children will have difficulty attending school, as parental permission is required from both parties on the birth certificate. In this case, a court may agree to remove the father from the birth certificate.
Do You Need Your Father’s Name on Your Birth Certificate?
While many people prefer to have their father’s name on their birth certificate, it isn’t necessary. The only time you might want to have it is when attempting to claim insurance, death benefits, or inheritance. Unfortunately, you cannot add the father’s name to your birth certificate after he has deceased.
If you want to learn more about how to get a replacement birth certificate or what it’s for, check our article on birth certificates here.