How Would My Newborn's Birth Certificate Be if I'm Not Married to the Dad?

By Bryan Driscoll, J.D.

How Would My Newborn's Birth Certificate Be if I'm Not Married to the Dad?

By Bryan Driscoll, J.D.

If you're not married to your child's father, his name is not automatically listed on the birth certificate. But you can add this information at a later date.

Woman holding a sleeping infant kissing its head

Each state has its own requirements for what they list on a birth certificate. These items include the names of the parents and child, as well as the time, date, and location of the child's birth. But sometimes the information entered is incorrect or needs to be changed later for a variety of reasons, such as divorce.

The Father's Name

The father's name is not a requirement on a child's birth certificate. When a couple is married, the state presumes the father to be the husband, so they will list his name on the birth certificate.

However, if the couple is not married and the father does not want his name added to the birth certificate, the mother can force him to establish paternity by getting a DNA test through a court order. If the results are positive, then the court will order that the birth certificate should be modified to include the father's name.

The Child's Name

Every state must include the child's name on the birth certificate. Married parents commonly share a last name and the child will also take the same last name.

However, when parents are unmarried, they will have different last names. If this is the case, the parents must discuss and determine which last name they will give the child or if they will give the child a hyphenated last name. State laws vary regarding the right of the mother to solely choose the child's last name. Some states give that right to the mother while other states require both parents to agree on the child's last name.

Modifying a Birth Certificate

Just like many legal documents, you can change a birth certificate. Whether the change results from an error or needing to add information like the father's name, you can make changes.

If you are doing this on your own, you must follow precise steps. Each state has different requirements so check your state's rules on birth certificate changes or speak to an attorney who can assist you with the process.

1. Contact vital records.

Sometimes called vital statistics, the vital records department for your state is the department you need to contact to start the process of changing your child's birth certificate. Contact them and request a form to modify a birth certificate.

2. Complete the form.

When completing the form, the state will require you to provide evidence you have the authority to change your child's birth certificate. You may have to provide a copy of your driver's license to prove your name matches the name on the birth certificate. Once you complete this form, return it to the vital records department in your state. You might also have to pay a fee for processing.

3. Request a copy of the updated birth certificate.

Once you have filed the form and paid the applicable fee, it may take some time before you receive confirmation that they have changed the birth certificate. But once you do, you can then request an updated version of the birth certificate to keep with your other important documents.

Ensuring your child's birth certificate contains accurate and complete information is important to make sure your child doesn't have any issues with their name or their connection to their father later in life.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.