How to Change the Father's Name on a Birth Certificate

By Michael Wolfe
the father's name, a birth certificate, a legal decree, permission

baby image by Diane Stamatelatos from Fotolia.com

When a child is born, the names of his mother and, usually, his father are recorded on his birth certificate. At this time, the mother instructs how the form is to be filled out, and no legal proof of the paternity of the father needs to be presented. Usually, parents have a certain time frame in which to make an indefinite number of changes or corrections to the birth certificate. In Minnesota, for instance, parents are given 45 days to freely alter the certificate. If that time has passed, parents must go before an authority, such as a judge, and petition to have it changed.

Fill out all required paperwork explaining the change you wish to make. The precise nature of the forms and the agency that provides them varies from state to state. Check with your state's Secretary of State for more information.

Provide legal proof of the child's parentage. In most cases, petitioners must present legal proof that the name to be entered on the birth certificate is the child's true father. Some states allow the father simply to sign an affidavit vouching parentage, but others require physical proof, such as a DNA test or other strong evidence.

Get a legal order mandating the switch. Sometimes a state department of health can authorize the change on its own. But more often, a legal authority, usually a judge, must approve a change to the document, because the birth certificate is a vital record and legal document. The judge probably will require the petitioners to provide a valid motive why a court order for the amendment should be granted. Many motives will be taken as valid, but they involve the revelation of new information about the child's paternity.

Petition the appropriate authority to amend the certificate. Depending on the jurisdiction and the amount of time that has elapsed since the child's birth, one or more state departments will be required to approve the amendment to the birth certificate. Check with the agency from which you received the initial paperwork for more information.

Pay court and administrative fees associated with the change. There are usually several fees, such as a processing, printing and notary fees. Costs vary between districts and states, but range from under $50 dollars to several hundred dollars.

Wait to receive a copy of the amended or new birth certificate. Government bureaucracies tend to move slowly, so there might be some lag time before you receive a new copy of the birth certificate. Some states amend the actual document, while others issue a new certificate entirely.

About the Author

Michael Wolfe has been writing and editing since 2005, with a background including both business and creative writing. He has worked as a reporter for a community newspaper in New York City and a federal policy newsletter in Washington, D.C. Wolfe holds a B.A. in art history and is a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y.

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