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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.

 

 

57 Comments

  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?

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  2. EDVALDO

    I did not know it. Good to know

    Reply
  3. ROBSBABYMOM

    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.
    FML
    Thanks for the baby, you deadbeat.

    Reply
  4. Jhill

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

    Reply
  5. Marie

    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.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
    • Tiffany

      And yes the real father paid a lawyer to have the papers fixed so we all signed them and then my father got killed in 2013 so can I put my father’s name on my children’s birth certificate???

      Reply
      • DDC

        Hi, Tiffany. That’s a question best answered by a family-law attorney.

        Reply
  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?

    Reply
    • DDC

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

      Reply
    • Rayne

      I live in Tennessee and I’m married to a female. I put her on my daughter birth certificate as her “father” but now I’m in a mentally abusive relationship and I want to take her off and I just want to know how to go about it.

      Reply
      • DDC

        Hi, Rayne. Please contact the Tennessee Department of Vital Records; they’re the best resource for you.

        Reply
        • Nancy

          Hi i want to remove my daughter Father in her birth certificate i already change the last but in the birth certificate how can i removed the father hes never been with shes is 15 and didn’t know him

          Reply
          • DDC

            Hi, Nancy. There are answers to your question in this article. Also, you can contact your state’s Department of Vital Records or a family-law attorney for guidance.

          • Pamela

            I have three children all in elementary school all of their birth certificates other than my youngest son’s who is now six years old all have been signed by my ex which I’ve never been married to.. we have not seen him in very very many years we live in Virginia he lives in Tennessee. He has not even spoken of them or even thought about seeing them since they were two and three years old and are our youngest was less than a year old I am now married very happily and our children call him daddy rightfully so. My question is how hard would it be for me to have all three of their last names changed to match me and my husband’s (there Mommy and the person they call and consider their daddy and to be honest the only person they remember as such). Would I need the biological fathers approval? Even though he is not allowed to leave the state of Tennessee as he is about to be serving nine years in prison for manufacturing and distributing methamphetamines.. so needless to say and only has he been out of our lives not only do I plan for him to stay out of it but I can tell you he has no plan of being in their life either in any way . My children love their mommy and daddy but we want all of our last names to be the same that simple… So in this situation how hard of a time do you think I might have getting this worked out?

          • DDC

            Hi, Pamela. I wish you all the best with a tough situation. The best thing to do would be to be advised by 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.

    Reply
    • DDC

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

      Reply
    • 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?

      Reply
      • 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.

        Reply
  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.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  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..

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
      • Ally

        Hi, my ex and I were off and on, and while on he ended up cheating on me, and this set me into a spiral of anger. During our break I had a one night stand with a man who was a complete stranger to me.. (I was drunk at a bar) I truly don’t even remember his name, but I do know my child is his. Shes 8 months old. My ex came back in my life, even though I told him multiple times he wasnt the father, him and his mother pressured me into having him sign the birth certificate.. He did and now hes trying to get custody of my baby. Theres nothing he can do right since hes not biologically her father? Im in New York state.. Im a really good mother, and hes done nothinng for my daughter since she was born. Wed just need to do a paternity test?

        Reply
        • DDC

          Hi, Ally. You really need to consult with a family-law attorney if you haven’t already. Seeing as he’s on the birth certificate, he’s considered the legal father and so he has all the rights that go with that title, despite DNA.

          Reply
  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

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  11. Samantha

    My boyfriend signed the birth certificate and the acknowledgment of paternity for my son. But now my ex wants to demand a paternity test. Is he allowed to do so even after the aop and certificate has been signed.?

    Reply
    • DDC

      Hi, Samantha. In most states, a possible father only has 2 years after the birth of a child to petition for paternity. If he requests one from you directly, you don’t need to agree to one. But if he goes through the court and they determine he has a valid claim, you should.

      Reply
  12. Brittany

    When I was a teen I gave birth to my son thinking that my boyfriend at the time was the father. It turns out that he is not the father. My son is four and I was wondering what steps I need to take to get his birth certificate changed to father unknown.

    Reply
    • DDC

      Hi, Brittany. There are answers in this article, and you can also contact your state’s Department of Vital Records.

      Reply
  13. Rebecca

    My son is about to turn 2 in 3 weeks and I already went through the process of changing his last name to mine but now I need to get the man that is listed as his father off his birth certificate. When he was 2 months old a paternity test was done and it proved that he was not the father and has not been in his life since then. His biological father is not involved in his life either by his own choice so I would just want the father spot empty not put the other guy on there. I don’t know the process of getting him removed from the birth certificate.

    Reply
    • DDC

      Hi, Rebecca. You can start by asking your state’s Department of Vital Records and then go from there.

      Reply
  14. Barb

    My friend’s son fathered a child out of wedlock. He died before the child was born. The mother did not add the father to the birth certificate but gave the child the father’s last name.
    She is refusing to let the parents of the father see the child.
    This is in Alabama. What are my friend’s rights?

    Reply
    • DDC

      Hi, Barb. Your friend needs to contact the Department of Vital Records in Alabama or a local family-law attorney for legal guidance.

      Reply
  15. Lw

    I am 34 years old and the man on my birth certificate is not my father. He continues to harass me and now wants visitation to my kids. Can I request a legal paternity test through the court to prove that we are not biologically related? Or can I do this with his father (who doesn’t talk to the man on my birth certificate). Would a paternity test with his father hold up in court. I want to remove him from my birth certificate and have the proof so he has no claim to me or my children.

    Reply
    • DDC

      Hi, Lw. Yes, you can do either option you mention. Just be sure you have a legal test done so that the results can be used in court.

      Reply
  16. connie

    My sister is 47 years old she just found out our dad is not her biological father. He knew from the start that it was a possibility but married the mother and took reponsibility , the other guy just shrugged it off. so now is the steps the same. My dad is so scared she might want to change the dad. He has been a good father to all of us but she is very angry at mostly her mom .

    Reply
    • DDC

      Hi, Connie. That is a legal question best answered by a family-law attorney or your sister’s state’s Department of Vital Records.

      Reply
  17. Christina

    My son is 4 years old, I left the father side completely blank. He was born in Florida. Me and his father got married June 5th 2020. How do we go about getting his father’s and now my last name on the birth certificate and changing my son’s last name to his last name. We have since had another baby who is 1 year old, the father was there to sign his birth certificate. We also live in Alabama, Tuscaloosa county now, please help! I don’t know the process of doing this. I want to change my sons last name before he gets old enough to realize his last name is different then his father and younger brother as well as mine.

    Reply
    • DDC

      Hi, Christina. Please contact Alabama’s Department of Vital Records for assistance.

      Reply
  18. Cece

    My son is 10 yrs old and his dad did a Dna test recently and it came back that he isn’t the father. He want to remove my his name of if the birth certificate and have my son last name change. He was in his life for all these years and I don’t want my son last name to be changed neither do the other family member. He’s getting a lawyer and Idk what to do. That’s the only family my son knows

    Reply
    • DDC

      You may want to get a lawyer as well, Cece.

      Reply
  19. Paula

    I am 56 yrs. old and have always known that the mans name on my Birth certificate is not and has never been a father to me. I found my biological father last year through ancestry.com. Is there any way to change my biological fathers name on my Birth Certificate?

    Reply
    • DDC

      Hi, Paula. The best place to start is with your state’s Department of Vital Records; they can direct you about the possibilities.

      Reply
  20. Marla

    I have a 6 yr old and her biological father pressured me into signing an affidavit to put him on the BC. He hasn’t seen her since she was 3 months old. Since then I got married and have other children. My husband has raised her and she calls him dad. She doesn’t know any different. The other guy does not pay child support. My daughter has my maiden name but wants to change it to my married name like my other children? I have nonidea where her biological donor is. He wants nothing to do with her as he stated when she was born and he said when affidavit was signed by my stupidity he won’t sign his rights away. Please what do I do?

    Reply
    • DDC

      Hi, Marla. What a tough situation! I suggest you contact a family-law attorney to see what your options are.

      Reply
  21. Mark

    My son’s girlfriend had a baby two months ago. He was there at the birth and signed the birth certificate. She told him the baby was his. He just found out that her ex boyfriend is the father of the baby, not him. ( the ex took a DNA test). How does he go about being removed from the birth certificate?

    Reply
    • DDC

      Hi, Mark. What a stressful situation; it’s too bad your family is going through such a heartbreak. This is why it’s so important for a possible father to do a DNA test before signing any legal papers, like a birth certificate. Your son should contact a family-attorney in his state to help determine what, if anything, can be done to rescind his legal-parent status.

      Reply
  22. Tae

    I have been separated for over 3 years I just had a baby with my boyfriend i know that by law my husband will be considered the father but can I still give my child her real father’s last name

    Reply
    • DDC

      Hi, Tae. That is a question best answered by a family-law attorney.

      Reply
  23. Laverne

    My daughter had a paternity test done years ago she assumed the father’s name would be wasn’t changed on the birth certificate it wasn’t. She can’t find the test results,how can she obtain them now ?

    Reply
    • DDC

      Hi, Laverne. I cannot speak for other labs, but for security reasons, DDC keeps at-home test reports for 1 year and legal tests for 5 years only.

      Reply
  24. Hilda

    Hi my son is 15 and he wants his last name to be changed to mines his father has never been involved and is willing to sign the papers but doesn’t wanna go to court can I be able to change his name… when he was born my ex signed the birth certificate but after a year his biological dad took a DNA and was added to the birth certificate will I still be able to add his old last name if his biological father is willing to sign the papers

    Reply
    • DDC

      Hi, Hilda. That is a question best answered by your state’s department of vital records.

      Reply

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