NOTE: The rules for every state may vary, and we do not give legal advice. If you have questions, we highly recommend you contact your state’s department of vital records or a family-law attorney.
There are several reasons for wanting to the change the name of the father on a child’s birth certificate: You may have discovered the man listed is not the child’s true biological father, an alleged father may want to establish a legal relationship with the child, or perhaps you simply suspect the man on the certificate is not the biological father and are curious what the process of amending vital records might entail. Whatever the case, changing the parentage on a birth certificate is a complex and time-consuming process that should not be taken lightly.
Here’s what you need to know about changing the parentage on a birth certificate.
Presumption of paternity
A birth certificate is completed and issued at the time of a child’s birth. If you are not certain of the child’s biological father at this time, you can opt to leave the father’s name empty and add it later once you have taken a paternity test, which does not require having to go to court in most states. The mother can always take a non-invasive prenatal DNA paternity test so that this information is known before the child is born. (This type of prenatal paternity test can be performed as early as eight weeks.)
In most states, both individuals are presumed to be the parents if a couple is married. This is commonly known as ‘presumption of paternity,’ as the man is automatically registered as the biological father of the child without DNA verification. If marital infidelity is suspected, a legal paternity test can be taken and presented as evidence in court.
How to change the father on a birth certificate
In order to change the father listed on a birth certificate, you must go through a lengthy process to legally pronounce an individual as a biological parent and legal guardian. This is known as adjudicating parentage.
The process begins with submitting a petition to your state judiciary requesting to adjudicate parentage. Your state should have an official form for adjudicating parentage that requests information such as:
- The name(s)of the child or children whose parentage you are trying to amend
- Whether the child(ren) currently has(have) a legally-acknowledged/presumed father
- Signature or proof of notice submitted to the new paternity registrant
- If a legal DNA paternity test has been taken prior to filing the suit
Prior to submitting a petition to adjudicate parentage, you may want to consider taking a legal paternity test to speed up the process. While a home DNA paternity test performed for personal use will clarify the paternity of the child, in most cases it cannot be used as evidence in court. Legal paternity tests have specific requirements, such as the involvement of a third party collector to verify individuals’ identities and to serve as witness to prevent any fraudulent activity.
If your case is successful, the judge can issue an order to adjudicate parentage specifically outlining what changes to make on the birth certificate. This order is required with VS 21 applications for amending birth records. When you obtain the VS 21 application, be sure to include a certified copy of the court order with the original seal and court clerk signature (not the original document) to reduce the chances of your application being rejected. Photocopies or other unofficial documents will likely not be accepted. However, it is recommended to include a photocopy of the original birth certificate to expedite the process.
Once your application to amend birth records is accepted, you will have successfully completed all of the steps to change the father on the birth certificate. The average processing time for these changes is approximately two months, after which time the new birth certificate will reflect the correct parentage.
Important note about changing a child’s birth certificate
Keep in mind that even if a DNA paternity test determines that a man who is not on the birth certificate is the actual biological father, a court may not agree to change the name on the birth certificate while the child is still a minor. This is especially true if there is already a man listed on the birth certificate who has accepted legal responsibility for the child and is supporting the child. Ultimately, for a minor child, the decision is up to the court. This is why it’s extremely important for men who think they fathered a child to make a claim within the first two (2) years.
Getting a legal DNA paternity test
Changing the father on a child’s birth certificate can be difficult, but by taking a legal paternity test beforehand, you can eliminate a lot of unnecessary costs and waiting time.
IDENTIGENE legal paternity tests are fast, simple, and affordable. Just call to set up a collection appointment, bring proper ID verification, and get your results in two business days after the samples arrive at our laboratory.
Take the first step of changing the father’s name on your child’s birth certificate with a legal paternity test from IDENTIGENE. Learn more about legal paternity testing in this blog post or click here to arrange for a legal paternity test now.
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“Adjudication Clauses, Rules and Procedures.” Construction Adjudication (2004): 113-40. California Department of Public Health. Web. 22 June 2015 <http://www.cdph.ca.gov/certlic/birthdeathmar/Documents/AdjudicationPAMPHLET-(01-14)-MERGED.pdf>
“Establishing Paternity and Legal Paternity Testing.” IDENTIGENE. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 June 2015 <http://dnatesting.com/establishing-paternity-and-legal-paternity-testing/>.
“Paternity Testing: Can I Change the Name on the Birth Certificate?” Home DNA Direct. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 June 2015 <http://www.homednadirect.com/dna-news/can-i-change-the-name-on-the-birth-certificate-with-paternity-testing.html>