Should I Name the Father on the Birth Certificate?
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- You are not obligated to include the father in the birth certificate.
- There are advantages and disadvantages to establishing paternity. Financial support and custody rights are often deciding factors.
- Naming the father does not always give him paternal rights or obligations.
This article helps you consider your path regarding paternity regulations: (1) whether to name the father on the birth certificate and (2) what to do if he refuses to acknowledge that he is the baby's dad.
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When to Consider Adding the Father’s Name
Whether to include the father’s name on the birth certificate only becomes a consideration if you are single. If you are married, your spouse is recognized by law as the father, even if he is not the biological father of your baby.
For more information, go to Who is the Father?
- Adding the father’s name to the birth certificate makes sense if you want the father to be known and take responsibility.
- Leaving his name off the birth certificate may be a way of protecting yourself and the child from his influence.
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Do I Have to Include the Father on the Birth Certificate?
Adding the father’s name to the birth certificate is not required in any English-speaking country.
- The mother’s consent is always necessary for the unmarried father to be included in the initial birth registration.
- Although the woman is permitted to make this initial choice, paternity testing is mandatory when applying for child benefits in the USA.
- Mothers in New Zealand do not need to apply for paternity in order to receive benefits.
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Can He Be Included Against His Will?
Including the father on the birth certificate against his will is not possible when filling out the initial registration of birth.
- His name would only be recorded if he signs the birth registration form or another official document stating his acknowledgment of paternity.
- He can be added later, even against his will, if a court order declares him the father. Paternity is most often established by a court-ordered test at an accredited lab. A home paternity test is not accepted as evidence.
For more information, go to:
- Paternity Test — How Soon Is This Possible?
- How do I respond if he does not want the baby? Take the test.
Can He Be Registered as the Father Against My Will?
Initially, his name cannot be recorded on the birth certificate against your will. Still, the father’s name can be added to the birth certificate later if he receives a declaration of paternity in court. This usually involves DNA testing. The birth certificate is then amended to reflect this change.
The father can be denied visitation or parental rights by court order if the child's safety or well-being is at risk.
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Can the Legal Father Contest Paternity Later On?
If your husband doubts whether he is the biological father, he can challenge paternity in court. However, most countries have statutes of limitations for disputing parentage. This means that paternity can only be challenged within a certain time frame. In most cases, the child must still be a minor.
Perhaps you are still faced with the question of how to deal with the whole situation. Maybe you recently discovered you are pregnant from an affair. Wondering how to proceed?
Ways of Establishing Paternity
Do you both desire his name to appear on the birth certificate?
- The simplest way is to establish paternity directly at birth, where the parents agree to include the father’s name on the birth certificate.
- Paternity can be established in retrospect. The birth certificate would be amended to include the father.
Read more about how it is done in your country:
The father’s name can be added to the baby’s birth certificate at any point in time if he signs the AOP (Acknowledgement of Paternity).
Both parents need to go to the registrar’s office together. If only one parent goes, he/she will have to bring a document, signed by the absent partner, called a Declaration.
Only when the mother is not in agreement does the father need to make an Application for a Declaration of Parentage (Form C63). The court will then decide who the father is and give him a Declaration of Parentage, which will automatically be presented at the General Register Office. Here, the father will be added to the birth certificate. A copy can be acquired by usual means.
Republic of Ireland
The father can acknowledge paternity by a Statutory Declaration, which is then signed by the mother.
A Statutory Declaration can be made by both parents at the Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, declaring that the father is the child’s parent.
The father can file an Affidavit of Paternity, which is then signed by the mother.
The father can apply for a Declaration of Paternity. No court proceedings are necessary if the parents are in agreement.
His Rights and Obligations When Paternity Is Established:
Adding the father’s name to the birth certificate gives him varying degrees of rights and obligations, depending on the country in which you live.
Read more about the rights and obligations in your country:
After the father has signed the Acknowledgement of Paternity, he has certain rights:
the right to be responsible for child support, the right to use his last name on the birth certificate, and the right to be consulted in case of an adoption hearing.
Child custody and visitation rights are requested separately and are not affected by whether his name is included in the birth certificate.
The Declaration of Parentage does not automatically give the father equal rights to the mother.
It gives him the right to have a say in certain legal decisions regarding the child. Additionally, the father can now apply for custody, visitation, and child support.
In order to spend time with the child, he must either enter into a Parental Responsibility Agreement with the mother or make a Parental Responsibility Order application in court.
Republic of Ireland
Even though a father's name may be registered on the child's birth certificate, this does not give him any guardianship rights in respect of his child. The father would only have rights of custody if he had been living with the mother for at least 12 consecutive months, including at least 3 months after the birth.
A separate application for joint guardianship must be filed at the District Court.
The father is presumed to have equal and shared responsibility for the child. He can apply for a parenting order in court if this is not settled with the mother outside the court.
Once paternity is established, the father has legal rights to the child. Custody can either be decided by both parents or handled in court.
When his name is on the birth certificate, he is obligated to pay financial support.
Once the father is named on the birth certificate, he is required to pay child support.
He is considered a guardian of the child and is entitled to contact, as well as has a say regarding the child’s care.
With the establishment of paternity, the father has full paternal rights and responsibilities.
Pros and Cons of Naming the Father on the Birth Certificate
There are many advantages to including the father’s name on the birth certificate. But naming the father on the birth certificate can have negative effects as well. We understand that you may be anxious about the father’s continued presence in your life and that of the baby. We have compiled a list of pros and cons for you to consider:
Pros of Naming the Father
- Official establishment of the relationship between father and child
- Important for the sense of identity of the child
- Improved relationship between the two parents
- Legal proof of each parent’s identity
- Likelihood of financial support from both parents
- Possibility of enrolling in the father’s health insurance plan
- Continuation of child support after the father’s death
- A complete medical history (in case of an inherited health condition)
Cons of Naming the Father
- Officially linking the child to the father if he is not a good influence
- He could assert custody or visitation rights, even if you do not want him to be involved in the child’s life
- Key decisions would have to be made in accordance with the father, such as healthcare treatments, enrollment in extracurricular activities, or relocating to a different city, state, or country
- International travel could be hindered by the father.
- Infidelity — making the biological father’s identity known could cause upheaval for your marriage or the father’s marriage
Pregnant in a Complicated Relationship
Perhaps you have stumbled across our page because you are caught in a difficult situation and unsure of where to go from here. Your pregnancy may have been unintended, and your relationship is complicated. Or perhaps you do not want anyone to know who the father is.
So many thoughts may be running through your head, making it hard to think straight. Take a deep breath. You are not alone! Our judgment-free resources were compiled with you in mind. Our goal is to strengthen you for the journey, allowing you to gain clarity and find the path that matches your unique desires, values, and needs.
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While we aim to provide you with the most up-to-date information possible, Profemina makes no guarantees as to the accuracy of the content of this article. For more specific legal counsel, please contact a lawyer.