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

By Ciele Edwards

Marriage is not a prerequisite for parenthood. A considerable number of children in the United States are born to unmarried parents. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development notes that, in 2009, almost 40 percent of all children born in the U.S. were born to unmarried parents. If you're not married to your newborn's dad, this can affect some of the information on the child's birth certificate.

Birth Certificate Information

The federal government does not require all states to use the same birth certificate form. Because of this, the information that appears on a child's birth certificate may vary slightly from state to state. In general, however, a newborn's birth certificate reflects the date, time and location of birth; and his name, race and parents' names and nationalities. The majority of the information present on a newborn's birth certificate, such as when the child was born, is the same regardless of whether the child's parents were married or unmarried at the time of his birth.

Father's Name

When a married couple have a child, the mother's husband is presumed to be the father of the child until proven otherwise. Thus, as a matter of course, the hospital lists his name on the birth certificate as the father. A man who is not married to the child's mother can typically have his name listed on the child's birth certificate if he establishes paternity. One way to do this is by signing a document acknowledging he is the child's biological father. Such a document, however, is not legally binding without the signature of both parents. If the alleged father refuses to sign the document, the mother can force him to establish paternity by seeking a court order requiring he submit to a DNA test. If the alleged father does not establish paternity to his child, the child's birth certificate will typically list his mother's name but not his father's.

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Child's Name

Unmarried couples typically have two different last names. The couple must decide what last name the child will have. Unmarried couples aren't required to give their child a specific surname upon birth. The child may carry the mother's surname, father's surname or a hyphenated surname. The name the couple chooses then appears on the newborn's birth certificate. An alleged father's denial of paternity does not ensure the child will not carry his last name. State laws vary regarding a mother's right to name her child. In Connecticut, for example, an unmarried woman has the right to give her child any name she wishes – whether the alleged father agrees to the surname or not. In Florida, however, both parents must agree to the child's surname before the hospital will enter the name on the birth certificate. If both parents cannot agree, a court will determine the appropriate surname.

Birth Certificate Changes

If your newborn's birth certificate contains errors, or if you need to add information such as the father's name to the record, you can request a birth certificate amendment from from the department that handles vital records in your state. State regulations vary regarding what information can be changed. California, for example, does not allow parents to change any part of their child's name on his birth certificate without a court order. Should you need to correct an error or add information, you must generally pay the required fee, provide proof of parentage and fill out a birth certificate amendment form.

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How to Change the Father's Name on Birth Certificates in New Hampshire

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How to Change a Child's Last Name in Virginia

A parent can change the name of her child in Virginia through the Virginia circuit court of the county the child resides in. If both parents agree to the name change, the process is relatively easily and requires a signed application and a visit to the circuit court. The parents do not have to state the reason for changing the child's name on the application, but the name change must be in the child's best interests under Virginia law.

How Do I Get New a Birth Certificate After a Name Change?

Most name changes do not require a change to your birth certificate. In fact, state offices of vital records will refuse to change the name on your birth certificate if you changed your name due to a marriage or a divorce. Many states will, however, change the name on your birth certificate if you changed your name for reasons such as adoption or gender reassignment surgery. State laws vary on the procedure for changing the name on a birth certificate.

Legal Reasons to Change a Minor's Last Name

Parents often seek court approval to change a child’s last name so the child will have the same surname as the family the child lives with, for the sake of convenience in dealing with schools and for cultural reasons. Children often suffer confusion and embarrassment when their names are different from their parents. While a woman can legally change her last name as part of a marriage or divorce, a minor child’s name change usually must be handled in a separate action.

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