How Do I Change the Father on my Child’s Birth Certificate?

Sep 30, 2019 | Legal Paternity Testing, Paternity

How Do I Change the Father on my Child's Birth Certificate?


How do I change the father on my child’s birth certificate? It’s a very important question a parent may ask if they discover the man they thought was the father of their child really isn’t or if a man not listed on the certificate wants to establish a legal relationship with a child. It’s also a step to consider for people who never knew the identity of their father until a DNA test confirmed a biological relationship. Changing the father on a child’s birth certificate involves jumping through some bureaucratic hoops and it definitely requires a time commitment.

So how do I change the father on my child’s birth certificate? Here’s what you need to know.

Presumption of Paternity

When a baby is born in the United States, a birth certificate is completed and issued shortly following the birth. If the mother is unmarried and isn’t sure who the father is, she can choose to leave the space on the certificate for the father’s name blank. A presumption of paternity is generally made if a couple is married. This means that the husband is legally presumed to be the biological parent of the child since he is married to the mother, his name is added to the birth certificate, and he assumes legal responsibility for the child. If the paternity of the child is contested in either of these scenarios, a paternity test can establish or disprove a father/child biological relationship.

Paternity Testing is Required

Paternity testing if the mother is single: The mother can request that a legal paternity test be taken by the alleged father(s).  This does not involve going to court in most cases, but it’s important that the paternity test be a legal, witnessed test, so that results can be used for child support, custody, etc. later.

Paternity testing if the mother is married: The husband is required to take a legal paternity test (an at-home test is not appropriate here since court-admissible results are required), and the report can be presented as evidence in court, should it be needed.

In either case, the mother can also choose to 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 seven weeks.) If you prefer to wait till after the baby’s born, you don’t have to wait till the child is older—newborn babies are tested all the time.

Changing the Father on the Birth Certificate

Adjudicating Parentage

To change the father on a birth certificate, an individual must first be legally pronounced as the legal guardian of the child, which is called adjudicating parentage. The state has a form (VS21) for adjudicating parentage and amending a birth certificate 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

This part of the process can be sped up considerably by having the results of the legal paternity test in hand before starting the application for parental adjudication.

What Happens Next

If a judge deems you have a valid case, he/she issues an order to adjudicate parentage and outlines which changes should be made to the birth certificate. A certified copy of this order (with the original seal and court-clerk signature) needs to accompany the VS1 form, along with any other information the state requires.

In most states, this information is submitted to the state’s Department of Vital Records department for review. If it’s accepted, a new birth certificate is issued.

 Something to Keep in Mind if You Fathered a Child Out of Wedlock

In most states, if there is contested paternity, an alleged father has two (2) years to make a paternity claim, so it’s important not to wait. If the mother is married and a paternity case is brought to court by an alleged father to whom she is not married, it is up to the discretion of the court whether or not they deem it in the best interest of the minor child to change the birth certificate—even if the alleged father produces legal results showing he’s the biological father. If the man on the birth certificate is already supporting the child and has accepted responsibility, the court can choose to deny the claim of the biological father.

Wrapping It Up

Changing the father on a child’s birth certificate can take approximately two (2) months to complete, from start to finish. Making sure the legal DNA paternity test report done ahead of time is definitely an advantage and can save a lot of time, headaches, and unnecessary expense.

IMPORTANT: This article gives general information about changing the father on a child’s birth certificate in the United States only. Keep in mind the specific process can vary state by state and we are not providing legal advice. If you have further questions, we strongly suggest you contact a family-law attorney or your state’s Department of Vital Records.

Call us at 800-929-0847: We’re here to help.

Do you have questions or comments about a legal paternity test? Share in the comments and we’ll answer.




  1. Crystal

    I live in california, my son is almost 4 years old and has been raised by myself, my current boyfriend who signed the birth certificate at the hospital, and my ex boyfriend whom I remained very close with after the breakup and allowed him to be a part of my childs life as we didnt think hed ever have children of his own. It turns out my ex is actually my sons biological father and is now taking me to court requesting full custody. Any comments on this?

    • DDC

      Hi, Crystal. The fact that your ex has been confirmed as the biological father may not make a difference to the court. Regardless of DNA, if the court thinks the status quo is in the best interest of the child, it may deem it best to leave things as they are. It would be wise to retain an attorney to look out for your interests.


    I did not know it. Good to know


    I gave birth and the father was not present at the time of the birth so the hospital would not let me add the father on birth certificate. They told me I had to leave it blank.
    He has no issue with being on birth certificate he just could not make it to the birth… so now my daughter has “unknown” as a father on birth certificate and now I must get a DNA test in order to fill in the blank?
    So now that he is not on it he feels like he got away with murder and refuses to give me any info on him so I can add him. He packed up and moved away.
    Thanks for the baby, you deadbeat.

  4. Jhill

    Q.Alleged father John Doe cannot be excluded as biological father of the child.
    A. He is the Father of my child

  5. Marie

    The child was born in Oklahoma and still we live here. The child is almost 4 by boy friend of 10 years is on the birth cert. But a man now is wanting to do a dna test to now see if hes the father. Can this be done? Or is it too late for him to try and pursue this action. My boy friend of 10 years and i did not for one min think he was not both of ours.

    • DDC

      Hi, Marie. I cannot give you a clear yes or no answer, since all states have different paternity laws; a family-law attorney can give you a clearer picture. I can tell you that in most states, a man has two years from the time the child’s born to contest paternity. However, it’s entirely up to the courts whether or not they believe the other man now has a valid claim.

  6. Emily

    Hi, I just recently had my son and his father is not around and has never met him. Out of stupidity I allow the guy I was dating when I gave birth to be out on the birth certificate even though he is not the father. I want to have my sons biological father DNA tested and add and the other man taken off. How can I go about this. What are the first steps?

    • DDC

      Hi, Emily. Your first step should be to contact your state’s Department of Vital Records or a family-law attorney.

  7. Shay

    I want to change the father’s name on MY OWN birth certificate. I am 40 yrs old. My mother lied on the birth certificate and put my older sister’s fathers name on the certificate, although he had been deceased for 10 years when I was born. My bio father is known to me, my mother would testify to his identity and he never contested his paternity. However he died almost 20 yrs ago. His obituary lists me as his daughter. Everyone knows he is my father and to honor his memory and to keep the record correct I want to make the correction!! But I am hitting brick walls… it seems like no one will even listen to me long enough to understand the situation. Any advice for me? Oh, to complicate, my bio family on my fathers side lives 1400 miles away from me.

    • DDC

      Hi, Shay. Have you contacted your state’s Department of Vital Records? That would be the best place to start for getting answers.

    • Leilani

      Hi, my daughter its 9 years old. Im from PR and moved to IL where I raised her by myself with other 2 kids (1 is his) I was with my ex didn’t know I was pregnant and lost it, that week got rape by other man and my ex sheltered me. He signed her, I moved to IL and last year he received a letter for child support. He want me to take him out of birth certificate and child support because isn’t his. How I do that?

      • DDC

        Hi, Leilani. Because he’s on the birth certificate, he took legal responsibility for the child at the time he signed and it’s possible the court won’t choose to change his status. Since this is a legal question, I suggest you contact a family-law attorney or social worker in your area.

  8. Justin

    My daughter was born in Florida, and her mother and I have gotten back together and have had two more children, and has moved to NC with me. We are wanting to get my name on her birth certificate and change her last name mine. Do we have to go the state she was born in to complete this? Also do I have to have a legal paternity test to get this completed? She is 5 and we know she is mine.

    • DDC

      Hi, Justin. I suggest you contact the Department of Vital Records in NC to double-check what you need to do. If you need a legal paternity test, we can help you with that. Call one of our DNA specialists at 800-681-7162, M-F from 8 am to 8 pm Eastern.

  9. Yareli

    My husband in his early teenage years was dating a girl who was pregnant by someone else, he still choose to be with her knowing the child wasn’t his. She had the baby & my husband gave the baby his last name. Till this day she still has his last name, can he be put on child support? We live in Illinois..

    • DDC

      Hi, Yareli. Is he on the birth certificate? That could make a big difference. You need to double-check with an Illinois family-law attorney.

  10. Aida

    The minor child has been living with the grandparents since childbirth. The biological father has never claimed the child so his name is not on the birth certificate but the child’s last name is of the father. During the birth of the minor child the hospital record doesn’t use the father’s last name. The biological mother wants to change the minor child’s last name to her maiden name. What needs to be done for the last name to be changed? Is there an affidavit that can be filled out by the biological mother to sign since she does not live with the minor child and doesn’t live in the same city? The sole custody and guardian are the grandparent of the minor child. Can you let me know concerning this matter! THX

    • DDC

      Hi, Aida. The legal guardian of the child needs to contact the state’s Department of Vital Records to see what must be done.


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