We receive many queries from fathers seeking advice on whether it is important to be named on their child’s birth certificate. Here are the primary questions we encounter. For more information on this topic, do not hesitate to contact our specialist team who will be happy to assist.
Could the Father not be named on a Birth Certificate?
It is relatively common for the father not to be named on a child’s birth certificate. The reason behind such an omission may be a genuine mistake or oversight by the mother or the person completing the paperwork. Perhaps the parents’ relationship has broken down. In other instances, the father’s name may not be known or the mother may refuse to put the father on the birth certificate, which is not illegal.
Why is it important for the Father to be named on the Birth Certificate?
When named on the birth certificate, the father acquires rights in respect of the child. These rights are known as parental responsibility. If the father’s name is missing from the birth certificate, the father will not automatically acquire parental responsibility.
What is Parental Responsibility?
A person with parental responsibility of a child must:
- provide a home for the child;
- protect and maintain the child;
- discipline and impose boundaries for the child;
- choose and provide for the child’s education and where the child goes to school;
- agree to the child’s medical treatment and have access to the child’s medical records;
- name the child and agree to any change of name;
- look after the child’s property;
- consent to taking the child abroad for holidays or extended stays;
- determine the religion the child should be brought up in or promote exposure to more than one religion if there is a mixed cultural background.
As a result, parental responsibility is very important for a father. If there is a disagreement concerning one of the above issues between the mother and father, it is not permissible for either parent to make a unilateral decision without the agreement of the other parent. Legal remedies are available in the event on ongoing dispute.
What are a Father’s Rights if not on the Birth Certificate?
This will depend on whether the father and mother were married at the time of the child’s birth. The father will automatically acquire parental responsibility if he and the mother were married at the time of the child’s birth or have subsequently married each other.
It is more difficult for the father if he and the mother are not married at the time of the child’s birth and he is not named on the birth certificate. Simply, if a father isn’t named on a birth certificate, he would not automatically acquire legal rights or responsibilities. In the worst-case scenario, if the mother does not accept the father is indeed the father, he will encounter significant difficult attempting to invoke the rights that would be acquired by having parental responsibility.
Can a Father put himself on the Birth Certificate?
Yes, but the process will differ depending on whether the mother is in agreement with the father’s name being inserted and the birth certificate re-registered. Again, this is only relevant when the parents are unmarried.
If the mother is in agreement, the birth certificate can be re-registered directly with the General Register Office (GRO). The mother and father will need to provide some evidence to the GRO likely in the form of a statutory declaration from the mother that the father is the child’s father. Once completed, the father will duly acquire parental responsibility.
Can a mother refuse to put the father on the Birth Certificate?
In general, yes, a mother can refuse to put the father’s name on the birth certificate. In the UK, it is not illegal for a mother to not include the father’s name on the child’s birth certificate. However, if the father wants to be included on the birth certificate and establish his parental rights, he may need to take legal action. This could include filing a paternity action in Court and seeking a Declaration of Parentage which may require DNA testing. Once established, the court will notify the GRO and the birth certificate will be re-registered including the father’s details. However, the father will not acquire parental responsibility in this manner.
What about a Parental Responsibility Agreement?
A Parental Responsibility Agreement (PRA) is an agreement made between the child’s father and mother providing the father with parental responsibility when the parents are unmarried. A PRA is only necessary if the father is not named on the birth certificate or if his name has been added to a re-registered birth certificate following a declaration of parentage from the court. A PRA can only be made if both the mother and father consent to it. A PRA must be sent to the Central Family Court who in turn will record its terms and return sealed copies to the father and mother. The sealed PRA can then be submitted to the GRO allowing the birth certificate to be re-registered including the father’s details.
What about a Parental Responsibility Order?
A Parental Responsibility Order (PRO) is a court order providing the father with PR when the parents are unmarried. A PRO is only necessary if the father is not named on the birth certificate and the mother is either unwilling to re-register the birth certificate with the GRO or lodge a PRA with the court. Remember a re-registered birth certificate following a declaration of parentage from the court does not infer parental responsibility. A judge will consider specific criteria when assessing whether to grant a PRO for a father. When the court makes a PRO, it can then be submitted to the GRO allowing the birth certificate to be re-registered including the father’s details.
How long does Parental Responsibility last?
Parental responsibility will last until the child reaches the age of 18.
Rayden Solicitors are family law specialists who can assist in relation to all aspects of family law. If you require legal advice about any of the issues raised in this blog, please do not hesitate to contact us.