Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Monday | September 28, 2009
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LAWS OF EVE - Should I omit my child's father's name from his birth certificate?

Sherry-Ann McGregor - Contributed

The practice of omitting the father's name from a child's birth certificate should be discouraged because it may have serious practical and legal consequences.

There are many reasons which may be given for the absence of the father's name from the birth certificate. It may have been a deliberate act on the part of an unmarried mother or it may have simply occurred because the father was not present at the time of the child's registration and did not subsequently sign a declaration acknowledging that he is the father.

Despite the circumstances in which the omission might have occurred, both parents would be well-advised to ensure that steps are taken to correct it, and some of the reasons are set out below:

1. The birth certificate is the first form of identification which is available to a child, and establishes a basis upon which the child is able to seek support and maintenance from his or her parents. The absence of the father's name from the birth certificate presents an unnecessary hurdle for that child, which may prove costly to overcome.

2. In the event that the mother dies, and failed to appoint a legal guardian for the child, the child may be left without a right to claim parental accountability from anyone.

3. If the father should die intestate (that is, without leaving behind a will), the child may experience difficulties in claiming a benefit under his father's estate, because there would be no direct proof of paternity.

4. The child is likely to become the subject of court proceedings for applications for declaration of paternity, blood tests and DNA tests in order to make claims which he or she should otherwise be able to make directly.

5. A child may suffer embarrassment or inability to identify with a family unit if he or she is unable to establish clear paternal connections.

The Registration (Births and Deaths) act outlines the procedure to be followed to ensure that the father's name is entered in the register. It should be noted that the omission can be corrected at any time; and (especially for the reader who asked) it should be noted that the person acknowledging himself to be the father of the child is entitled to make a declaration of this fact, without the mother's input, if the mother is dead or cannot be found.

The steps involved in correcting the omission of the father's name from the register will be outlined in next week's article.


As a follow-up to the article published on September 14, 'Do I need to do a deed poll?', the National Land Agency has kindly advised of the procedure which it follows where a newly divorced woman wishes to revert to use of her maiden name:

If the customer is able to show by her birth certificate that the name she is reverting to is her maiden name, along with the decree absolute, there will be no need for the deed poll.

What would be required is the statutory declaration, a copy of the decree absolute, a birth certificate or marriage certificate to establish that the person with whom one is dealing is the same as the person on the other documents.

Sherry-Ann McGregor is a partner and mediator with the firm Nunes, Scholefield, DeLeon & Co. Send feedback and questions to lawsofeve@yahoo.com or Lifestyle@gleanerjm.com.

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