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Questions asked frequently by fathers:

1) What steps can be taken to acquire parental responsibility if I am not named on my child’s birth certificate? and/or

2) How can I get my name added to my child’s birth certificate?

Acquiring parental responsibility

Biological mothers automatically acquire parental responsibility for a child upon birth. The situation is however, different for fathers. A father will only automatically hold parental responsibility for a child if a) their name is recorded upon the child’s birth certificate or b) they are married to the biological mother.

So how can a father acquire parental responsibility if he does not satisfy either a) or b) above?

Ordinarily, and if paternity is in dispute, a DNA test should be completed initially to evidence the biological link. Once paternity is established, one of the following options are available.

Option 1: If the biological mother agrees that you should share parental responsibility for the child, a parental responsibility agreement can completed and a copy of the same is to be taken to the Family Court to be signed and witnessed.

Option 2: If on the other hand, the mother is not in agreement, an application for parental responsibility can be made formally to the Family Court. Save for in exceptional circumstances, for example if there is concern that these rights may be misused, and provided paternity is not in dispute, the Court will make an Order giving the father parental responsibility for his child.

Amending a child’s birth certificate

For many fathers, it is very important not only that they share parental responsibility for their child, but also that their child’s birth certificate reflects their child’s true identity. Applying got parental responsibility does not result in any changes automatically being made to a child’s birth certificate.

This can be achieved by applying to the Court for a Declaration of Parentage.

A Declaration of Parentage is when the Court decides who the father of a baby is. You do not need to do anything to change the birth record if there’s been a Declaration of Parentage made by a Court. The court will tell the General Register Office and the birth will be re-registered. You can then need to order a new birth certificate if you want one.

For further information/advice or assistance with making an application for parental responsibility or a declaration of parentage, please contact our child law specialists on 01924 431 774, or send an email to