The birth of a child is a momentous occasion and, in most jurisdictions, a documented occasion. In the United States, the birth of a child is recorded on a birth certificate. This legal document affirms a child’s existence, parentage, and other vital information.
While a birth certificate can confirm the parentage of a child, the father does not have to be included. In some cases where the biological father is not involved in the mother or child’s life, their name will be omitted from the birth certificate. In other scenarios, a mother will decide to wait to add a father to the birth certificate until she is sure who the biological father is.
The Name-Changing Process Post-Paternity Testing
External factors sometimes compel a parent to update aspects of their child’s birth certificate. One example could be the confirmation of the child’s biological father through paternity testing.
The name-changing process can be quite complex, often requiring specific documentation, which can differ between jurisdictions.
Step 1: Obtain a Legal Paternity Test
While an at-home paternity test can be great for peace of mind, proof of paternity via legal testing can be beneficial when it comes time to begin the name-changing process. Ensure your legal paternity test:
- Is from an accredited testing provider like DNA Diagnostics Center
- Follows the required chain of custody needed to guarantee court-admissible results
Step 2: Petition for a Name Change
The next step would be to file a petition for a name change in the court of the county where the child resides. Exact petition requirements, fees, deadlines, etc., may vary by location. A name change petition will typically require information such as:
- Child’s current name
- Child’s proposed name
- Reason for the name change
- Proof of paternity
Step 3: Submit Your Paternity Test Results
Along with the change-of-name petition, you will likely need to submit the results of your legal paternity test. This crucial document links the biological father to the child and helps to justify the name change in the eyes of the court or judge.
Step 4: Await the Court’s Decision
The court will review the case once the parent files all the required documentation. A judge may want to hear from both parents (if possible) before making a decision. If the judge approves the petition, they will issue an order for the name change.
Step 5: Request a Revised Birth Certificate
If the petition is approved, the final step would be to submit the court order to the office responsible for vital records in your state; this office is usually the Department of Health or Bureau of Vital Statistics. Once received, they will issue a revised birth certificate with the child’s new last name.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a Mother Refuse to Put the Father on the Birth Certificate?
In many jurisdictions, a mother has the right to leave the father’s name off the birth certificate. However, if paternity is confirmed and the father wishes to be on the birth certificate, he can petition the court for a legal order to amend it.
How Can You Add a Father to a Birth Certificate?
Following paternity testing, adding a father’s name to a birth certificate is a common request. The process of adding a father to a birth certificate can vary based on jurisdiction. Generally, one would need to:
- Apply to amend the birth certificate (may require payment and/or proof of paternity)
- Await the court’s decision
- Once approved, request a copy of the revised birth certificate
How Long Does a Birth Certificate Name Change Take?
The length of the birth certificate name-changing process can vary greatly depending on the specifics of your situation and the legal requirements in your state. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to receive the amended birth certificate.