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.  


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