A mother or father can apply to have the father’s name removed from the birth certificate if they can prove the father listed on the certificate is not the child’s biological father.
The process for removing a father’s name from the birth certificate varies from state to state. You will need to examine the laws in the state where the child’s birth certificate is filed.
In general, if you wish to remove a father’s name from the birth certificate, you will need to do the following:
- Get a genetic test (DNA test) that shows the father listed on the birth certificate is not the child’s biological father.
- File a petition with the family court in your jurisdiction to remove the father’s name from the birth certificate. This would be a lawsuit to determine that you are not the child’s biological father.
- Prove that removing the non-biological father’s name from the birth certificate is in the child’s best interests.
This article will address the typical scenarios when a person may want to have a father’s name removed from a birth certificate:
- What to do when the wrong father’s name is on the birth certificate.
- Can an absent father’s name be removed from the birth certificate?
How to Remove a Non-Biological Father’s Name From a Birth Certificate
In every state, if a father is listed on a child’s birth certificate, he is considered the child’s legal father. The laws in every state favor children having two parents. Because of this, courts are hesitant to take a father’s name off of a birth certificate unless there is compelling evidence that he is not the child’s biological father. If you want to have any chance of removing a father from the birth certificate, the first thing you will need is DNA evidence.
How to Establish Non-Paternity with a DNA Test?
If you want to remove a father’s name from the birth certificate, you first need to take a paternity test, otherwise known as a DNA or genetic test. If the child’s biological father is unknown, either the mother or father listed on the birth certificate can apply for DNA testing through their state’s Family Support Division.
You will not want to use an at-home DNA test. In most family courts, an at-home DNA test will not qualify as admissible evidence. A Colorado father learned this the hard way.
In a recent case, a judge in Colorado refused to accept the father’s DNA test that proved he was not the child’s father because he had failed to follow the court’s guidelines for the correct submission of the DNA test to the court.
If the DNA test shows at least a 98 percent probability that the man is the father, then most states will say he is the presumed father. If the DNA test returns 98% or more, you will not win a petition to establish non-paternity, and the father’s name will stay on the child’s birth certificate.
If the DNA test concludes that the father listed on the birth certificate is not the child’s biological father, the court will have a hearing to determine if removing the father’s name from the birth certificate is in the “best interests of the child.”
Is Removing the Father From the Birth Certificate in the Child’s Best Interest?
In some cases, the court is unwilling to remove the father’s name from the birth certificate, even if the DNA evidence proves he is not the biological father. This occasionally happens when the “father” has financially supported and helped raise the child for a period of time. This is especially true if the child has bonded with the man and believes him to be his “father.”
During any hearing to remove a father’s name from the birth certificate, the judge’s primary concern is whether it is in the child’s best interest for the father’s name to be removed. If the judge does not believe removing the father’s name from the birth certificate is in the child’s best interest, the judge will not be required to do it, even if the DNA evidence proves he is not the biological father.
For instance, in some states, the father might not be able to have his name removed if the mother and father listed on the birth certificate were married at the time of the birth. Courts may still see this as legal paternity, even if DNA tests yield different results. The court may, in this situation, refuse to allow the man’s name to be removed from the birth certificate.
This is hard to believe, but it does happen. If you find yourself in this situation, you will need the help of a good family law attorney.
Can a Mother Remove an Absent Father’s Name from a Birth Certificate?
People often ask me if the name of a child’s absent father can be taken off the birth certificate.
In general, an absent father’s name cannot be removed from the birth certificate if he is the child’s biological father. This is true, even if the father is willing to sign off on his parental rights.
No court in the United States will want to illegitimize a child when the biological father is listed on the birth certificate. Simply wanting to take a father off the birth certificate because of a bad relationship, an absent father, a father in prison, or a divorce will not change who the child’s legal father is.
In most states, the only way to remove a biological father’s name from the birth certificate is if the mother has remarried and the new husband is adopting the child. Even then, the birth father will need to agree to terminate his parental rights so that the adoption can proceed. You will need to hire an attorney and ask the court for permission to adopt.
If a Father’s Name is Removed from the Birth Certificate, Can he Have Contact With the Child?
When a father’s name is taken off the birth certificate, the main benefit is that the father can no longer claim parental rights over the child or get in touch with the child unless the mother gives permission or the court gives the father special visitation rights.
Once the child becomes an adult, it will be the child’s right to decide what relationship, if any, the child will have with the father who was removed from the birth certificate.
Pros and Cons of Removing the Father’s Name From the Birth Certificate
The pros and cons of removing a father’s name from the birth certificate are as follows:
- It is essential to consider that removing the father from the birth certificate will result in the father losing the right to be a parent. The father will no longer have parental responsibility if you remove him from the birth certificate. This includes no custody or visitation rights with the child.
- The father will not be responsible for providing a home for his child or for protecting and caring for him. This is an important factor to consider, especially if something happens to the mother in the future that would make it difficult for her to support and care for the child.
- A child may become a ward of the state if the father is not named on the birth certificate and the mother cannot care for the child. By contrast, if the father were listed on the birth certificate, he would retain parental responsibility over the child. He could make decisions for the child even if the mother could not.
- Another consideration of removing the father from the birth certificate is that the father will no longer be obligated to pay child support upon removal. If the mother is later unable to support herself and the child financially, she will not be able to seek financial assistance from the father. On the other hand, if the father remains on the birth certificate, he would be responsible for paying child support.
- The child will lose the right to inherit from the father. If the child’s father dies, the child won’t be eligible to receive death benefits from the Social Security Administration. Also, if the father dies without a will, the child won’t be able to inherit anything from the father’s estate.
- It can also be emotionally challenging for a child to have their father’s name removed from their birth certificate. A child may feel emotionally hurt when they discover their birth certificate does not name a father. There may be a feeling that they have been abandoned.
The decision to remove a name from a birth certificate can have many implications. Thus, it is essential to think it through carefully.
Do You Need the Father’s Consent to Remove his Name From a Birth Certificate?
It is not always necessary for the person named as the father to take part when you remove the father’s name from the birth certificate. If both the mother and the biological father apply to have the birth certificate corrected, then the father listed on the birth certificate’s permission is not needed.
Removing a name from a birth certificate can be quicker if the person named on the certificate consents and provides a letter confirming the same. However, this may not be possible in some instances if the person named on the birth certificate is not contactable or the mother does not wish to contact them.
Will You Need to Go to Court to Remove a Father’s Name From the Birth Certificate?
If you know the biological father and can prove this by an approved DNA test, then it should be easy to apply to the court to remove the father’s name from the birth certificate. However, in most states, you must go to court to obtain a court order to remove a father’s name from the birth certificate.
Why Would a Father Want to Remove His Name From a Birth Certificate?
Sometimes, a man’s name gets added to a birth certificate by mistake. In most states, if a husband and wife have a child while they are married, the husband will be presumed to be the father of the child, even if, in fact, he is not the child’s biological father.
Even if a man is not a child’s biological father, he can be legally recognized as such on a birth certificate. Among a father’s legal rights is the ability to ask the court for custody or visitation of his child, as well as obligations related to paternity. A man whose name appears on a birth certificate may be asked to pay child support or support a child financially through his health insurance, Social Security benefits, veterans’ benefits, etc. If a man denies being the father and has his name taken off a birth certificate, he is legally free from these responsibilities.
How to Remove Your Name From a Birth Certificate if You are Not the Biological Father?
If the presumed father is not the child’s biological father, the father (who is married to the child’s mother) must sign a Denial of Parentage form in the state where he resides. If there is any doubt about who the father of a child is, genetic testing must be ordered by a court.
If genetic testing shows that you are not the biological father, the court will likely grant your petition to remove your name from the birth certificate.
Once the judge’s order is signed, the order should be taken to your local Bureau of Vital Statistics and compete for a form to amend the birth certificate.