How to add a father on a birth certificate is a vital question for many families. Whether for legal, emotional, or practical reasons, ensuring the father’s name is correctly listed can impact the child’s future in many ways. Here’s a quick overview of the main steps:

  1. Complete the relevant forms: Generally, this involves filling out an application for a new birth certificate based on parentage.
  2. Provide supporting documents: These could include an Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP), marriage license, or court order.
  3. Pay the necessary fees: An application fee is usually required, and there may be additional costs for certified copies.
  4. Submit the documents: Mail the package to the Vital Statistics office in your state.

Adding a father’s name to a birth certificate is more than just updating a document. It can facilitate access to health insurance, death benefits, and other essential services for the child. On an emotional level, it grants the child a sense of identity and belonging.

However, the decision to include the father isn’t always straightforward. The pros must be weighed against possible complications like custody rights and parental decision-making abilities. By understanding these complexities, you can make an informed choice that best supports your family’s needs.

Steps to Add a Father to a Birth Certificate - how to add a father on a birth certificate infographic infographic-line-5-steps

Understanding Paternity and Birth Certificates

Paternity Acknowledgment

Acknowledging paternity is a crucial step in establishing a legal relationship between a father and his child. This process is often straightforward when done voluntarily. Both parents sign a legal document called the Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP), usually at the hospital shortly after the child’s birth. This document confirms the father’s identity and his willingness to accept parental responsibilities.

Example: In Florida, parents can fill out the DH-511 Form at the hospital, which adds the father’s name to the birth certificate without the need for a court appearance.

Legal Fatherhood

Establishing legal fatherhood goes beyond just adding a name to a birth certificate. It involves recognizing the father as the child’s legal parent, which grants him rights and responsibilities. These include custody rights, decision-making abilities, and financial obligations like child support.

Quote: Howard Iken, a family law attorney, emphasizes, “Establishing paternity can be a complex task that has serious financial and other ramifications for the mother and/or the alleged father.”

Vital Records

Vital records are essential documents that include birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, and more. These records are maintained by the Department of Vital Records in each state. To add a father’s name to a birth certificate, you’ll need to interact with this office.

Fact: In Texas, the process involves completing the VS-170 Form and submitting it to the Texas Vital Statistics office.

Steps to Add a Father on a Birth Certificate

Adding a father to a birth certificate is a multi-step process. It involves establishing paternity, completing the necessary application, and understanding what happens after the change is approved. Let’s break it down.

Establishing Paternity

1. Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP):
The simplest way to establish paternity is through a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity. This legal document can be signed by both parents, usually at the hospital right after the child’s birth. By signing, the father accepts his parental responsibilities and rights.

2. Genetic Testing:
If paternity is uncertain or contested, a DNA test can provide clarity. This involves taking a DNA sample from the alleged father and the child, usually through a mouth swab. The test costs between $75-$100 and is often paid by the father. If the test confirms paternity, the father’s name can be added to the birth certificate.

3. Court Order:
When voluntary acknowledgment or genetic testing isn’t an option, a court order can establish paternity. The court may order a DNA test and, upon confirmation, issue a paternity order. This legal recognition allows the father’s name to be added to the birth certificate.

Completing the Application

Once paternity is established, the next step is to complete the application process.

1. VS-170 Form:
In Texas, you need to fill out the VS-170 Form for a new birth certificate based on parentage. This form is crucial for adding the father’s name officially.

2. Supporting Documents:
You’ll need to submit several documents, including:
– The original birth certificate
– A notarized affidavit from the father
– Proof of paternity (if established through court order or DNA test)

3. Notarization:
Ensure that all signatures on the forms and affidavits are notarized. This step is essential for the documents to be legally binding.

4. Fees:
There are fees associated with filing the application and obtaining a new birth certificate. These fees can vary by state and county, so check with your local vital statistics office.

After the Change is Approved

Once the application is processed and approved, several things will happen:

1. New Birth Record:
A new birth certificate will be issued with the father’s name included. This new document serves as the official record of birth.

2. Sealed Files:
The original birth certificate is usually sealed and kept confidential. This means the old record won’t be accessible without a court order.

3. Legal Implications:
Adding a father to a birth certificate has significant legal implications. It establishes the father’s rights and responsibilities, including custody, visitation, and child support. It also allows the child to access benefits like health insurance and death benefits from the father.

By following these steps, you can successfully add a father’s name to a birth certificate, ensuring legal recognition and access to important benefits for the child. Next, we’ll explore the potential benefits and considerations of making this change.

Potential Benefits and Considerations

Official Relationship

Adding a father’s name to a birth certificate legally establishes the father-child relationship. This official recognition can make it easier for the child to access various benefits and rights.

Child Support

Financial Support:
Establishing paternity is crucial for securing child support. This financial support can significantly contribute to the child’s health, education, and overall well-being. Without paternity, courts cannot mandate child support from the father.

Health Insurance

Listing the father on the birth certificate can facilitate enrolling the child in the father’s health insurance plan. This documentation serves as proof of the father-child relationship, making it easier to get coverage authorized.

Death Benefits

Social Security and Child Support Continuation:
If the father is listed on the birth certificate, the child may be eligible for death benefits like Social Security or continued child support in the event of the father’s death. Without this documentation, proving paternity could be more complicated and time-consuming.

Custody Rights

Parental Rights:
Once a father is listed on the birth certificate, he can assert parental rights, including custody and visitation. This legal acknowledgment can be beneficial in fostering a relationship between the father and child, but it can also complicate matters if the relationship between the parents is contentious.

Parental Decisions

Adding a father to the birth certificate means both parents may need to agree on major decisions, such as healthcare, education, and relocation. This can sometimes make decision-making more challenging, especially if the parents do not see eye-to-eye.

Travel Limitations

Travel Permissions:
If the father is on the birth certificate, the mother may need his permission to travel internationally with the child. This could involve providing a certified letter at border crossings or both parents being present to get a passport for the child.


Complex Situations:
In cases involving infidelity, there might be additional emotional and legal complexities. Deciding whether to list the father can be challenging, and weigh all potential benefits and drawbacks carefully.

By understanding these potential benefits and considerations, you can make a more informed decision about adding a father’s name to a birth certificate. Next, we’ll look into state-specific guidelines and fees for this process.

State-Specific Guidelines and Fees

Adding a father’s name to a birth certificate can vary depending on the state. Here’s a look at the guidelines and fees for Texas, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.


In Texas, the process to add a father’s name involves two main steps: establishing paternity and completing the necessary forms.

  1. Establishing Paternity: This can be done through a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) or a court order.
  2. Forms and Fees: The main form required is the VS-170 – Application for a New Birth Certificate based on Parentage. Fees for filing the form and any DNA tests can range from $75-$100.

South Carolina

South Carolina also requires establishing paternity before adding a father’s name to the birth certificate.

  1. Establishing Paternity: This can be done through a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment or a court order.
  2. Forms and Fees: The required forms and fees can vary. DNA testing costs and court fees are similar to those in Texas.


In Pennsylvania, the process is straightforward but requires specific steps:

  1. Establishing Paternity: This can be done through a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form or a court order.
  2. Forms and Fees: The forms required include the Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) form. Filing fees and DNA testing can also apply.


Illinois follows a similar process but has its own set of requirements:

  1. Establishing Paternity: This can be done through a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity or a court order.
  2. Forms and Fees: The forms required include the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) form. Fees for filing and DNA tests are comparable to other states.

Frequently Asked Questions about Adding a Father to a Birth Certificate

How much does it cost to add a father to a birth certificate in Texas?

Adding a father to a birth certificate in Texas involves a few steps and associated costs. The primary expense is for the DNA test, which typically costs between $75 and $100. This cost is often borne by the father. Additionally, there may be filing fees for the necessary forms, such as the VS-170 Form. It’s also advisable to check with the Texas Vital Statistics Office for the most up-to-date information on fees and processes.

How long does a father have to establish paternity in WV and South Carolina?

In West Virginia, a father generally has until the child turns 18 to establish paternity. However, it’s best to do this as soon as possible to avoid complications and secure parental rights early on.

In South Carolina, the timeframe is similar. Fathers are encouraged to establish paternity promptly, preferably at the child’s birth. Waiting too long can complicate the process and may involve additional legal steps.

For both states, establishing paternity can be done through a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity or through a court order if paternity is disputed.

Does the biological father have rights if he is not on the birth certificate in PA?

In Pennsylvania, if a biological father is not listed on the birth certificate, he does not automatically have legal rights to the child. To gain rights, he must establish paternity through one of the following methods:

  1. Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity: Both parents can sign a legal document acknowledging the father.
  2. Court Order: The father can petition the court for a paternity test and legal recognition.

Once paternity is established, the father can then seek custody or visitation rights and will also be responsible for child support. For more detailed guidance, it’s best to consult the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Understanding these frequently asked questions can help you navigate the complexities of adding a father to a birth certificate more effectively.


Navigating the process of adding a father’s name to a birth certificate can be complex and emotionally taxing. At Cynthia Hernandez Law, we understand these challenges and are here to help you every step of the way.

Our experienced team specializes in family law and has extensive knowledge of paternity cases. We provide personalized guidance to ensure your rights and responsibilities are clearly defined. Whether you’re seeking to establish paternity, amend a birth certificate, or understand your legal options, we’re dedicated to making the process as smooth as possible.

Why Choose Cynthia Hernandez Law?

  • Expert Legal Advice: Our attorneys have a deep understanding of family law and paternity cases.
  • Personalized Service: We tailor our approach to meet the specific needs of your case.
  • Supportive Guidance: We support you from filing the petition to understanding the test results and beyond.

Don’t let the complexities of how to add a father on a birth certificate overwhelm you. Reach out to us for a consultation and take the first step toward resolving your paternity issues.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you in securing a better future for you and your child.