no father on the birth certificate

No Father on Birth Certificate? What does it mean?

Getting your newborn’s birth certificate is something most hospitals or midwives will help you with after you give birth. While it may vary by state or location, typically the mother fills out certificate of live birth which will be used to create a birth certificate. A few days after the birth of your child, the birth certificate is ready to be picked up at the town hall or mailed to the parents. The form will ask for your newborn’s information, mother’s information, and father’s information. However, it may be up to the mother of the child on whether or not the child’s birth certificate contains the father’s information. A mother may declare no father on the birth certificate if the couple is not legally married and, believe it or not, this is quite common. While parental rights for an unmarried couple aren’t quite as simple as they are for a married couple, rest assured that both the mother and father have options.


When a couple is not legally married and they have a child together, the father can choose to fill out a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity affidavit. This document will legally declare him as the father and will result in his name and information appearing on the child’s birth certificate. If the father does not voluntarily fill this document out, he will not appear on the child’s birth certificate. There are pros and cons of putting the father on birth certificate but ultimately the decision is extremely personal. One benefit of having the father listed is that your child, until the age of 18, will be entitled to social security death benefits if the father passes away. In addition, the mother of the child may find it easier to get child support from the father with his name on the birth certificate. On the other hand, with no father named on the birth certificate, the mother may have easier access to full custody depending on the state. Disadvantages of having the father on the birth certificate almost always concern custody, however it is important to know that a father can fight for custody and visitation rights even if he is not listed on the birth certificate. Some states automatically assume that a single mother has full custody of her child but the father can file a paternity action which will start  legal proceedings to grant him some degree of custody rights.


Since the parental rights laws vary from state to state, it is wise to research the pros and cons of listing the father on the birth certificate before making a final decision. A great resource for this can be found here at the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. And of course a father’s name can also be added to a birth certificate later in life by filing to amend the birth record. Just be sure to update any original or certified copies of birth certificates from when the father’s name was not listed! For help obtaining a certified copy of a newly amended or brand new birth certificate, visit VitalChek’s online birth certificate ordering service.  


  1. My mother in law claims that my husband was never issued a birth certificate because he was born in the doctor’s office. He has had a passport every since he can remember. He doesn’t know his father and was born in Long Island, New York in 1968. Is this possible? How do I find out if he does have a birth certificate?

    1. Hello Dee Dee. Thanks for reaching out with your question. If he was born in one of the boroughs of NYC, he can contact the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for more information. If he was born outside of NYC, he will need to contact New York State Department of Health.

  2. Hello,

    My daughter is trying to get a passport for her
    Daughter and was told she needed eithervthevfather present. Her daughters father is incarcerated and she sent him a form for him to sign and the prison notarized it and she went to the get her passport and they said now they said she needed a license or photo Id. He does not have a license and the prison
    I’d is the only Id.

    1. Hello John. We are sorry to hear about this passport dilemma. One would think the notarized form from the prison would be sufficient in this circumstance. Your daughter may want to call the regional passport office for her area for additional information and to determine what documentation is acceptable and how to proceed. Please click here to visit the US. State Department website for more information on regional offices.

  3. My great grand son father passed away and he was not on birth certificate. For 11 years he paid child support and never denied him. He was named after him. Right now the mom is trying to get social security benefits. They told her to bring proof he is th e father. What should she do He paid child support up until he died and they were in court together when it it was ordered. Help

    1. Hello. Since the welfare of her child is involved she may want to consider seeking legal advice for this situation.

  4. If a father is not on the child’s birth certificate
    Is he force to pay child support???

    1. Hello Maria. Parental rights and responsibilities may vary from state to state so it would be best for you to research the laws in your state regarding the parental responsibilities of a father not listed on a child’s birth certificate.

  5. What if we’re unmarried and the father willingly acknowledges that he’s the father and fills out all the paper work, the mid wife and nurses also have to sign as witnesses and then you get the birth certificate and the fathers name is not on it. How does this happen?

    1. Hello Alexzandria. We suggest you contact the vital records agency that issued the birth certificate for more information as to why the father’s name was not included on the birth certificate.

  6. I’d like to find out what would be required for the father of the child to be included on the birth certificate if he is a foreigner and does not reside in the United States (nor has he ever been here). Can I add his name with his passport ID still or would there be more required. This is for DC vital records and Maryland vital records by the way, as the baby is due to be born in one of the two states (still undecided).

    1. Hello Zoe. Thanks for reaching out with your question. If hospital choices have been narrowed down, consider contacting them for more information as to what documentation is required to complete the birth record. Another option would be to contact DC Health Vital Records or Maryland Department of Health for more information.


    1. Hello. Thanks for reaching out with your questions. The Dual-Parent Signature Rule requires the signature of both parents on passport applications for children up to the age of 14. That being said, there are exceptions to this rule. For instance, if only one parent is listed on the birth certificate,then two signatures are not required.

      To correct the DOB error on your son’s birth certificate, contact the vital records agency that issued his certificate originally to determine their requirements for corrections.

  8. I have a question also. The father is not listed on the birth certificate. What rights does his mom have at this point? The mom is pushing to see the child and the childs mom is fearful he will be able to see his child and not have to pay. what do we do?

    1. Hello Susan. You may want to consider seeking legal advice so you you know who has what rights with regard to the child, visitation rights, child support, etc.

  9. Hi I did not have I.d on me when my son was born I would like to be on the birth certificate how and what should I do?

    1. Hello Adam. Each vital record agency may have different requirements for amending/correcting the information on the birth certificate. We suggest you contact the vital records agency that issued your son’s birth certificate to determine their procedure.

  10. My boyfriend’s kids mother passed away 2 years ago and he is not on 2 of these kids birth certificates. But 1 of the kids lives with us and we want his other child, who is with an aunt, (who will not give her back) and police said they couldn’t do anything because he’s not on there. With the mother being deceased, what do we have to do in order to get him out on there and get his daughter back?

    1. Hello Jessica. We are sorry to hear about your situation. Your boyfriend may want to consider seeking legal guidance in order to resolve this situation and may be required to submit to a paternity test to prove he is the father.

  11. Hi I was wondering I’m currently married was married when I had my daughter . My husband is not the biological father but remain on the birth certificate. Since the biological father didn’t want to put on it . What happens now that he wants rights over her ? Will he get them or will my husband continue to have the rights ? I even put a restraining order against him .

    1. Hello Milani. If the biological father now wants to be involved in his daughter’s life, he will need to pursue it through legal means if you are not agreeable to such a situation. The courts will more than likely require a paternity test and then they will make a ruling based on the outcome of that test and other factors related directly to your particular situation. We wish you the best.

  12. I’m married but have been separated
    (Not legally) I’ve have two other children
    with my now live-in boyfriend. Our oldest
    Has legally acknowledged as his daughter
    We haven’t received a new Birth certificate
    Yet does that mean he has rights to her?
    My other daughter I didn’t put either one on
    the birth certificate what rights does my
    husband have to her and what rights does
    her biological have if neither are listed on it?

    1. Hello Amber. The answers to your questions can vary from state to state. You might consider consulting with a family law professional in your area to determine all the paternal rights.

  13. My child’s father refuses to provide for her. Not to mention his mother is harassing me. Their environment is not safe or prepared for her. They are not financially stable. He uses a DNA test so he won’t have to provide for our daughter. Even though he know that she is his. I have dealt with so much stress and drama my entire pregnancy that I’ve decided that I don’t want him at her birth, and he refused to sign the birth certificate. I am going to give him the satisfaction of a DNA test because there is no question that she’s his. If we take a test at the hospital will they make him put his name on her birth certificate? I don’t want him to have any legal rights to her.

    1. Hello LaShaunta. Sorry to hear about your predicament. You may want to consult with a family law specialist for guidance on how to proceed.

  14. Hey, I have a question. If the father is not on the birth certificate but now He needs to be on it, but the child lives in Los Angeles and the father lives in Georgia. Whats the process? does he need to travel to Los Angeles or he can do a DNA test from another state

    1. Hello Genesis. Thanks for reaching out with your question. The child’s birth certificate will need to be amended to include the father’s name in the state where the child was born. We suggest you contact the vital records agency that issued the child’s birth certificate originally to determine what steps will need to be taken to add the father’s name. It is entirely possible that proof of paternity may be required.

  15. If fathers name isn’t on the birth certificate but you gave child father and your last name can you remove fathers last name.

    1. Hello Debi. Your question would be bested presented to someone with legal expertise.

  16. If I want to change my child’s last name, which is hyphenated and includes the biological father’s name,
    can I change the name to include my fiance’s last name once we are married? I would not be actually
    removing bio father name just changing the final last name after the hyphen to my new legal name.
    Also he (bio father) is not listed on the birth certificate and he did not sign.

    1. Hello Dominque. Thanks for reaching out with your question. Since each requirements may vary from agency to agency, we suggest you confer with the vital records agency that issued your child’s birth certificate originally. They should be able to tell you the steps you will need to take in order to make the change you desire.

  17. All I know about my “alleged” father is that his first name was David, in the Army, was 23 in 1962, and originally from Tennessee. All this information is from adoption agency. He supposedly also had blonde hair and tall (I am brunette and short).

    He is not named on my original per-adoption birth certificate. It is VERY probable, my biological mother did not know who he was. He could have very well died in Vietnam.

    My biological mother has requested NO CONTACT. The only other biological family member who knows about me is my biological grandmother and my uncle (both deceased). As for the rest of the family, I’m the family secret no one talks about and they don’t even know I exist.

    I had to fight tooth and nail just to get my mother’s information…and that was for medical reasons. I learned nothing that could help me.

    It is also possible I may have half-siblings somewhere.

    1. Hello. You may want to seek out assistance from adoption support groups who may be able to offer valuable suggestions as to how to proceed with your search.

  18. I’m about to give birth, and the father is still married to another. It’s said that”father outs unknown ” on the birth certificate if the mother is married to another. But what if it’s the other way around.. what if the biological father of my child is still married at time of birth certificate signing?

    1. Hello Amy. After your child is born, you will be required by the hospital to fill out paperwork to register your child’s birth. You may want to ask the hospital personnel if the father’s marital status would prevent him from being included on your child’s birth certificate.

  19. What if I have my dad’s last name but he’s not on my birth certificate. Does that affect me in some way when traveling out of the USA?

    1. Hello Isabel. You may want to direct your question to the U.S. State Department. Please click here for more information about Americans traveling abroad.

  20. I have four children that there biological father has never been on the birth certificate or in their life. my current husband wants to be their father how can we put him as the father? Is it difficult ?

    1. Hi Layla. Thanks for reaching out with your question. In order for your husband to considered as your children’s legal parent, it may be required that he legally adopt them. We suggest you contact your local court system for more information about what will be required.

  21. Hi,
    My husband recently received a message via 23 & me stating that this person was potentially his son.
    person gave my husband his birth date and the name of his birth mother. My husband knows his birth
    mother however was never told about this baby. Is it possible to get a birth certificate only knowing the
    date, location of birth and mothers name?


    1. Hello Julie. The requirements and entitlement for obtaining a birth certificate or other vital record can vary depending on the vital record agency involved. If your husband was interested in obtaining a copy of the birth certificate for the person who may be his son, he should contact the vital record agency where the son was born for more information about requirements and entitlement.

  22. I have my license and ss# in one name and my birth certificate has another name
    How do I get my birth certificate change to the same on my license and ss#

    1. Thank you for your question. In order to make any change to your birth certificate, you’ll need to contact the vital record agency that issued the certificate – in the city, county, or state where you were born. They will be able to inform you of the process they require to make such a change, and will likely need you to show documentation such as your license, Social Security Card and/or other legal documentation as proof of the name you wish to use. Best Regards.

  23. My daughter were married when she got pregeant on of wedlock , By another man..The biogical father illegal sign his name on the birth certificate..And by law it states, on the Paternity Acknowledgement- State of Georgia in fine print if the mother is married hed couldn’t sign the birth certificate and hed sign it any way knowing she were still married..What can be done about it and now he claiming legitimation for that child..Was it illegal after reading that if he’d sign it he could face up to 5 years in jail and a fine up to 1000 dollar..The judge gave the biogical father 60 days to get the paper legitimation…Wasnt that illegal before he could get in custody right ..Its under the law.Is it ok for him to take her to school to check her and out are to the doctor , even visit the child should concern illegal and unlawful and kidnapping under the law.

    1. Thank you for your question. It definitely sounds like this situation is very complex, and your daughter may wish to seek legal advice to assist her in the appropriate steps to take. Every state can have different laws and regulations regarding paternity and custodial rights which can be complicated to fully understand. While our online ordering service applies the rules from each state regarding who can order certificates, we are not legal experts about paternity/custodial rights and cannot provide legal advice. We hope you and your daughter are able to resolve this issue positively. Best Regards.

  24. My daughter had a child whose father has never been in the picture and not on the birth certificate. My daughters last name is from a previous marriage (now divorced) and that’s the name she put on the birth certificate. She now wants the child to have her maiden name. What would be the easiest way to change the name on the certificate

    1. Hello and thank you for your question. In order for your daughter to make any change to her child’s birth certificate, she’ll need to contact the vital record agency that issued the certificate – in the city, county, or state where the child was born. They will be able to provide more information about the process they require to make such a change.

  25. I have 2 daughters,was unmarried to their father but he is listed on birth certificate.There are no custody papers in place.On a visit he kept my children.Can I go to his house and get them.

    1. Hello Aida. We are sorry to hear about your situation. You may want to consider contacting law enforcement to determine your rights as a parent and what steps to take to get your children. You may also want to consult with a legal professional.

  26. I was married at the time of birth of my child but my husband is not child’s father. And I did not put anyone on the birth certificate. Can I add the father of the child with a legal DNA test or is there more to it?

    1. Hello Vanessa. You may have to present the DNA results to the court in order to add the father’s name to your child’s birth certificate. For more information about what steps you will be required to take, contact the vital records agency that issued your child’s birth certificate originally. They should be able to provide you with next steps.

  27. Hello. I would really appreciate some feed back. When my daughter was born, her biological dad was not around and wasn’t listed on the birth certificate. Later, he established paternity and his name was to be added to birth certificate. (Since judge was not specific as to who should do it, I never added and so it remains without a fathers name). We are on good terms but I am still very hesitant to add his name on her birth certificate. My question is: Am I able to obtain a visa to travel overseas without
    A,) his name being on the birth certificate
    B.) If he signs a notarized letter giving my daughter permission to go?
    Thank you in advance

    1. Hello. You may want to contact the State Department to find out more about what they will require for your visa application. Also, since you have a judges order that was not complied with, you may want to seek legal guidance on this issue.

  28. Hi. my wife passed away and she did not include father on child birth certificate. I add to add my details on birth certificate. what steps i have to follow?

    1. Hello Ericu. We are sorry for your loss. You will need to contact the vital records agency that issue the birth certificate originally to determine their requirements for amending the certificate to include your name. It is possible that you may need to go through the court system and provide documentation of paternity.

  29. How can you put father name on birth certificate if he’s in another country and is not a us citizens?

    1. Hello Ana. Thanks for reaching out with your question. Requirements for amending a birth certificate can vary from vital record agency to vital record agency. In order to add the father’s name to the birth certificate, you will more than likely have to go through the court system in the area where the birth occurred and provide proof of paternity. It should not matter that the father is not a U.S. citizen but it may complicate the process of proving paternity.

  30. Hi
    If a couple are married but never lived together no more than a month and she ended up pregnant
    but never included father in childs life and didnt add him in birth certificate and couldnt collect child support. But now that the father finally filed for full custody and got the court approval for his name on birth certificate,can she now get him for child support for the past years?

    1. Hello Stephanie. Thank you for reaching out with your questions. Laws concerning parental rights and child support may vary from state to state so your best option may be to seek the input of a legal professional to get the answers to your questions.

  31. I’m not on my son’s birth certificate but he has my last name to I have any rights

    1. Hello Dale. We suggest you consult with a family law specialist in your area to determine what your parental rights are currently and how to expand them if that is you desire.

  32. Hi!
    We were in a common law marriage now we’re separated I have 8 month old baby, he was never in the picture , he is not listed on the birth certificate either can I travel with my daughter without his consent? Cuz my child has my last name and my name is on her birth certificate

    1. Hello Sonya. Since your child has your last name and no father listed on the certificate, it is more than likely that you would legally be considered the sole provider for the child and therefore can travel without consent of the father. We do suggest you check with TSA regarding their requirements for traveling with your baby to avoid complications later.

  33. Hi Larissa I wanted to ask, I have 2 kids and have not been placed in the birth certificate but they have my last name. Recently I filed taxes and used them on my taxes with the mothers consent. Is that wrong to do? Could the state charge me for this?

    1. Hello Mike. Thanks for reaching out with your question. Unfortunately, we are not qualified to answer that question. We suggest you consult with either a legal or tax professional for more information.

  34. So what is the MARRIED mother leaves her HUSBAND who is currently married to her and the legal father of the child off the Birth Certificate purposely?
    WV Vital Records is refusing to add the father even with proof they are legally married. The wife filed for a divorce when she was 12 weeks pregnant with her husbands child and then left him moving to another state.
    If they are legally married, the child was conceived and born during the marriage why is the father not being added administratively by WV Vital records? Seems illegal by both the mother/wife and Vital Records…

    1. Hello Kevin. Thanks for reaching out with your question. If the birth certificate has already been issued without a father listed, the father will more than likely have to petition the court and provide proof of paternity in order to be added to the birth certificate.

  35. my daughter’s father just died yesterday and we never got a paternity test could I get death benefits since he’s not on her birth certificate and we’ve never took a DNA test yet but he’s not buried or cremated yet please help

    1. Hello Kimberly. We are sorry for your loss. Unfortunately we are unable to provide you with answers to your questions. You may want to consult with an attorney on this matter. We wish you the best.

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