A birth certificate is a legal identification document which records information about a person’s birth, such as where they were born and when. This document is completed for all births that occur in the United States. By American law, information regarding births and other such statistics are to be collected and published at the national level. Having a birth certificate is necessary for obtaining many other legal documents, such as a passport or a driver’s license.

Generally speaking, both of the child’s parents will be named on the birth certificate. The law does allow for the removal of a parent’s name from their child’s birth certificate under specific circumstances. The legal process to remove a father’s name from a birth certificate varies on a state by state basis. Because a birth certificate is a necessity, it is imperative that the child’s birth certificate contains accurate information.

A common example of this would be when a person is mistakenly named as the child’s biological father on the birth certificate. This may happen when a couple is married at the time of the child’s birth, but the parent named on the birth certificate is not the child’s biological father. Generally when a couple is married, and a child is born, that child will be considered to be born of the marriage.

This means that the presumed father of the child in the eyes of the law will be the husband of the marriage. Another example would be if the child’s birthing parent is unsure of who the child’s biological father is, and later discovers that it is different from who was named on the birth certificate.

How Can I Remove a Name from My Child’s Birth Certificate in California?

In some states, such as the state of California, amending a birth certificate requires a court order to do so. Additionally, California requires a two step process to be completed before a new and updated birth certificate may be issued.

The first step requires filing a petition with a California family court. This petition essentially requests the court to grant their permission to change a name on the child’s birth certificate. California requires such an order to ensure that the requested change is valid, and to ensure that the name of a biological parent is not being unfairly removed from the birth certificate. Additionally, the named biological father of a child will also have certain responsibilities, such as providing for the child financially, including paying child support and providing medical insurance as applicable.

However, this legal protection is the reason why it is required that paternity is shown before the requesting party may receive their court order. Paternity refers to the process in which the applicant proves to the court that the father named on the child’s birth certificate is not actually the child’s biological father. Some ways in which paternity may be proven include, but may not be limited to:

  • A signed affidavit of paternity;
  • The father treats the child as their own, and provides for the child;
  • The father was married to the child’s mother at the time the child was born;
  • The child lives with the father, and the father cares and provides for the child; and/or
  • DNA testing.

Once paternity has been proven to the court, the court will issue an order which allows the petitioner to move on and complete the next step of the name removal process. Proving paternity is further discussed below.

The second step to removing a father’s name from a child’s birth certificate in California involves filing the following documentation:

  • The court order;
  • A copy of the inaccurate birth certificate;
  • An affidavit to amend a record with the Department of Vital Records; and
  • Submitting filing fees as required by the court.

It is important to remember that the Department of Vital Records will only amend a birth certificate if and when all of the aforementioned filing requirements are met. The Department is the same entity that will issue the new, accurate birth certificate.

It is necessary to remove a father’s name from the birth certificate when they are not the biological father so that the named person is not held legally liable for the child. The inverse of that statement is also true; it is necessary so that the actual, biological father is held legally liable for their child. It is in the best interests of all parties involved, especially the child, to begin the process of amending the birth certificate as soon as possible once it is discovered that the person named is not the child’s biological father.

How Do I Prove Paternity to Get a Court Order?

As previously discussed, proving paternity is a necessary step in obtaining a court order in California. The father that is listed on a child’s birth certificate is presumed to be the child’s father, and as such, proof is required to dispute the listed father as the biological father when that is inaccurate.

The court will want to be absolutely sure whether or not an individual is a child’s legal father in order to establish parental rights. Once again, paternity laws vary from state to state, and paternity is generally presumed from voluntary measures. DNA testing is not always necessary to determine whether a father’s name should be removed from a child’s birth certificate. However, such tests may be utilized in particularly complex or heavily disputed cases.

Establishing paternity is imperative for several reasons, some of which have already been mentioned. To reiterate, it is important to establish paternity for the following reasons:

  • The child’s legal right to benefits and support from their father;
  • The child’s knowledge of who their father is;
  • The father’s entitlement to visitation rights and a relationship with their child; and
  • The father’s medical history and background is important information that the child may not be able to obtain otherwise.

What If the Hospital Spelled the Father’s Name Incorrectly on the Certificate?

It may be that the named father on the birth certificate is correct, but the spelling of their name is not due to an error on the part of the hospital. In the state of California, misspellings may be corrected without needing to complete the process of obtaining a court order and proving paternity. Correcting a spelling error on a birth certificate can be accomplished by submitting an affidavit to amend a birth certificate form, to the Department of Vital Records.

Do I Need an Attorney to Remove a Father’s Name From My Child’s Birth Certificate?

If you are looking to remove a father’s name from your child’s birth certificate, and you live in California, you should consult with an experienced local family law attorney in California. Because much of the name removal process varies from state to state, working with someone local to you will likely produce the best and most accurate legal advice.

An experienced local family law attorney can help you begin the process and ensure you have completed all of the necessary paperwork. Additionally, a family law attorney can also help you effectively prove paternity, which is crucial in any case involving a child’s birth certificate. Finally, an attorney will also be able to represent you in court, as needed.