How to Remove a Father's Name From a Birth Certificate

By Teo Spengler ; Updated June 05, 2017
Newborn baby feet

The only way you can remove the father's name from a birth certificate is if paternity testing establishes that the person listed is not the biological father. This can be difficult to accomplish if the father listed is the mother's husband and both oppose paternity testing.

Birth Certificates

Birth certificates are important legal documents. Not only do they show your birth name and date, they also can establish your U.S. citizenship and inheritance rights through your mother and father, also listed on the certificate.

Generally the most problematic part of a birth certificate is for the parents to agree on what name to give the baby. But sometimes the name of the father is also a point of controversy. This can happen if the parents are not married, but it can also happen when the parents are married but the mother has had other sexual partners in the relevant time period before becoming pregnant.

If the mother is married, it is likely that her husband's name will go on the original birth certificate. In fact, in many states, there is a legal presumption that the husband is the father of his wife's baby. If the mother is not married but is in a relationship, she may put the current boyfriend's name on the certificate. If a couple marries after the birth, many states presume the new husband to be the child's father as well.

If paternity testing proves that the man listed on the original certificate is not in fact the biological father, his name can be taken off and the true biological father's name inserted. Current methods of determining paternity – genetic testing – are fast, and the results have a high degree of accuracy. So any DNA determination is likely to be accepted by the court.

Obtaining Paternity Testing

If you suspect that you are the biological father of an infant and want parental rights, your obvious first step is to discuss the matter with the child's mother. If she agrees that you are the biological father, your path toward paternity testing may be easier. A mother generally has authority to contest paternity.

If this approach proves unproductive, research your state's laws about challenging paternity. In many states, a man who may be the father (called the "putative" father) can challenge paternity even if the parents listed on the birth certificate oppose his claim to paternity. However, in other states, the court must look at the best interests of the child before allowing a challenge to paternity when the father and mother named on the birth certificate oppose it.

If paternity testing shows that you are the child's father, you can generally have the certificate changed, including the child's last name, without going to court again. Ask the court during the paternity action or talk to the people at the vital records office where the birth certificate is filed.

About the Author

Living in France and Northern California, Teo Spengler is an attorney, novelist and writer and has published thousands of articles about travel, gardening, business and law. Spengler holds a Master of Arts in creative writing from San Francisco State University and a Juris Doctor from UC Berkeley. She is currently a candidate for a Master of Fine Arts in fiction.