How do I get my child’s deceased father’s name on her birth certificate?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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In order to have a father listed on a birth certificate, if his name was not added at the child’s birth, you must prove paternity to the court. In a case where the father is available and willing to state that he is the child’s father, this may not be a complex process. However, in a situation where the father is deceased, proving paternity will be more difficult.

Basically, in the majority of states, even with the family of the father on your side, you will have to legally prove that the deceased was the father of the child before you can add his name to the birth certificate in order to receive social security benefits. Proving the paternity of a deceased person means you will have to show proof through a DNA test.

Getting a DNA test on a deceased person will probably have to be done through a genetic testing agency. There are several agencies located across the country, and you should be able to find one willing to help you, particularly if the father’s family is on board. Their consent will be needed for any DNA testing on the deceased himself, and they may also be able to offer some type of alternative such as hair or other personal items belonged to the father that can be tested, or a DNA test on a living relative.

Once paternity is established via DNA paternity testing, you will be able to petition the court to have the father’s name added to the birth certificate. At this point, the children may be able to collect social security benefits based on having a deceased father. After providing proof through paternity testing, applying for benefits should be a relatively straightforward process. Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to get the assistance of an attorney due to the complicated nature of proving paternity and DNA testing.

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