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.

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