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What are the consequences of not having the father’s name appear on the child’s birth certificate? He has certain obligations like the mother, right? Well, there has been much debate about what happens when a man signs a birth certificate lately and we’ll attempt to answer these questions regarding paternity:

  • What rights does a father have if he is not on the birth certificate?
  • I signed the birth certificate but I’m not the father
  • What if the name on the birth certificate is not the biological father
  • If a man signs a birth certificate, does he pay child support

What Happens When a Man Signs the Birth Certificate?

What happens if the father doesn’t sign the birth certificate? Realistically, you should consult an attorney in your state as the laws vary. However, most states allow the mother and father to sign a notarized affidavit stating he’s the father and submit it to the courts and you won’t actually have to go to court.

Close-up of male lawyer holding pen reading document at wooden desk
Check the laws in your state to see how long do you have before you need to sign the birth certificate. This way, you can avoid going through the legal process or adding or removing a particular father.

When you’re married and have a child, the husband has parental rights and responsibilities. If a couple is not married, the father won’t have the same parental rights as married couples.

How is the Father Determined?

The man listed as the father on the birth certificate is viewed as the legal father whether paternity is proven or not. When a man signs a birth certificate, he is acknowledging a legal responsibility and relationship with the child, this includes providing support for said child. 

The law determines if a man is a father when considering if he:

  • Was living with the child’s mother when she got pregnant
  • Appeared on the mother’s application for public assistance
  • Was married to the mother when the baby was conceived
  • If the mother said he was the father

In most states, when a man signs a birth certificate, he has rights. If the mother wants to revoke these rights, she must prove he is not the father. She has to establish paternity or prove he is unfit. The court order will also determine the appropriate visitation and any other parental rights at that time.

Now, if the named father wants to prove the paternity of the child, he should do it as soon as he possibly can. On the other hand, if the single father’s name is not on the birth certificate, he doesn’t have any legal rights in the case of the child. He doesn’t even have a right to visitation.

In other words, if space is left blank when it comes to the father’s name or otherwise noted as ‘unknown,’ the mother has to take full responsibility for the child.

How the Last Name Affects the Child

There could be a thousand reasons why the father’s name is not on the certificate of birth. The woman may not even know who the father is. It’s the sad truth these days. You see it all the time on television. As a matter of fact, it’s how The Maury Show and Paternity Court became popular.

Other reasons include, the mother doesn’t know where the father is, they are no longer together, they are feuding or the mother doesn’t want to give the father rights to the child. Who knows why, but whatever the reasons are, the mother needs to understand what it means when a man signs a birth certificate, to not have the father listed, and how it affects the child or children.

Related Content: When Men Who Don’t Want Children Have Children

Remember, when a man signs a birth certificate it signifies the unwed father knows or thinks the child is his and is willing to provide for the child. The father will be responsible for the child’s health care and financial support and in the event the father dies, the child is entitled to certain social security benefits.

When the child doesn’t carry his last name, there are all kinds of protocol to meet with to determine the child’s biological father. 

Paternity and The Legal Implications

If the father does prove he’s the father, he then accepts the responsibilities of being a father. This means he provides support until the child reaches a certain age and has the right to see the child.

If the parents are married but divorce within a couple of years, or if they are single parents, or if the man has doubts about the child’s paternity, he can petition the court and have a DNA study completed.

man signs a birth certificate happy family playing baby learning walk beach 23 2148134573
When a man signs a birth certificate, whether he’s the biological father or not, he’s responsible for the child. Photo by Nicole De Khors from Burst 

You should know there’s a short window in most states if you want to dispute the paternity. Usually, the father has just a couple of years after birth to prove he’s not the father.

Proving Paternity and Child Support

The more women who have children out of wedlock, the more the paternity is questioned. The outcome is the need for paternity laws is growing. Should single fathers and married fathers have the same rights and responsibilities?

If the non-biological father signed the birth certificate, he is agreeing he is the father, but that isn’t necessarily the case. He may or may not be aware there’s a possibility the child is not his.

The mother bears the burden of pursuing the biological father to pay child support. The court may seek support from the biological father instead of the name on the birth certificate. 

However, in some states like Georgia, it doesn’t matter if the man is not the father, he will pay child support if he signed the certificate of birth says divorce lawyer, Kevin Mammola.

Many fail to realize when a man signs a birth certificate, it is a legal contract. It promises the child the parents will take of their needs and medical care. In light of this, the man really needs to think about signing the birth certificate. If he has any doubt whatsoever, he should get a DNA test before he signs.

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