In the U.S., a birth certificate is a critical document used to prove citizenship, access a passport, get a driver’s license, or get married. The information on a birth certificate must be accurate and is legally binding. So, what does it mean if both parents’ names aren’t on a birth certificate? What rights do fathers have if they’re not on the birth certificate? 

For most married couples, both names appear on the birth certificate, which awards them equal rights and responsibilities in regard to the child. For couples who aren’t legally married, things can be different. 

What Happens When the Father Signs a Birth Certificate

When an unmarried father signs a birth certificate, he legally acknowledges that he is the biological father of the child. When he signs the certificate, he’s agreeing to paternity and accepting any and all legal responsibility for the new child. Legally, this means he’s liable for the support of the child, but it does not guarantee him legal rights to access or time-sharing responsibilities with the biological mother. 

In order to request child visitation or time-sharing rights, the unmarried father must obtain a court order that defines his rights. 

What Happens When the Father Doesn’t Sign a Birth Certificate? 

In the case of unwed couples, the decision to add or not add a father’s name to a birth certificate can be a highly personal one. There are a variety of reasons the father’s name can be left off the birth certificate: 

  • Unable to identify or locate the father
  • The father is deceased
  • The strained relationship between mother and father
  • Unsure how including a father’s name will impact a mother’s parental rights

No matter the reason, the father’s name is not a requirement to issue a birth certificate in Ohio or any other state. 

Benefits of Having a Father’s Name on a Birth Certificate

While it’s always a personal choice of the biological mother, there are some benefits to having a father’s name on a child’s birth certificate, especially as a minor. 

In any state of the U.S., you need a father’s name on a birth certificate to: 

  • Prove identity – any child under 18 needs both parents listed on the birth certificate present to sign documents to obtain a passport, attend a school or get copies of a birth certificate
  • Claim child support payments
  • Claim death benefits
  • Receive insurance coverage

In the event that parents are unsure about whether or not to have a father sign a birth certificate, it’s best to speak with a trusted family lawyer in Ohio that can educate them on the unique benefits of having a father’s name and signature on a baby’s birth certificate. 

Understand Your Parental Rights in Ohio

What rights do father’s have in Ohio? At the Law Offices of Kenneth R. Kline LLC, we do everything in our power to help you understand your rights as a biological mother or unwed father. Learn more about the custody laws in Ohio from experts who care. Set up a consultation with our office and learn more about your parental rights in Ohio. 


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