Does a name on a child’s birth certificate prove paternity?*
No, a man’s signature or name on a birth certificate is not enough to prove paternity.
There are many ways a man can “adjudicate” or prove to the Court that he is the father of a child. Merely signing the birth certificate is not enough.
This short blog post is made under the condition that the father is not married to the mother of the child. If a mother is married, that is a different set of facts entirely where different rules apply.
According to Texas Family Code § 160.302, an acknowledgment of paternity must:
- Be in a record,
- Signed or authenticated, under penalty of perjury by the mother and the man seeking to establish paternity,
- State that the child whose paternity is being acknowledged
- Does not have a presumed (“presumed” meaning the mother is married to someone else) father,
- Does not have another acknowledged (another man that has filled out paperwork with the state) or adjudicated (someone that the Court has found to be the father of a child) father;
- Whether or not there has been genetic testing and if the acknowledgment is consistent with those results; and
- The signors agree that the acknowledgment is the equivalent of judicial adjudication.
Let’s break this down to what this may look like at a hospital. A woman just gave birth to a baby, and the man is present and ready to sign the birth certificate. The couple is not married. The man and woman are not married to anyone else. They both agree that the man is the father of the child. Typically, the hospital will have the parents sign an “Acknowledgement of Paternity” at the same time, or close to the same time, as paperwork is completed for the child’s birth certificate. The acknowledgment of paternity conforms with the elements listed above and is filed on behalf of the parents.
Be aware that the hospital is not responsible for filing the record with Texas vital statistics. Though a father may have filled out the paperwork at the hospital, it is crucial that it is filed with Texas Vital Statistics. It is the filing with Texas Vital Statistics that adjudicates a man as the father of a child, not the name on the birth certificate.
*Paternity is a complex legal subject that is fact-intensive. This blog may be updated, but there is no guarantee that it will conform to future changes in the law. This blog should not be construed as legal advice. You should contact an attorney to discuss the facts of your case.
**The above content shall not be considered advice from an attorney. Every case is different. You should request the assistance of a licensed attorney for advice specific to your circumstances.**