Changing a Child’s Birth Certificate

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CA Health and Safety Code §102425(a)(c) states:

If the parents are not married to each other, the name of the person identified by the woman giving birth as either the only possible genetic parent other than the woman giving birth or the intended parent of a child conceived through assisted reproduction shall not be listed on the birth certificate unless the woman who gave birth to the child and either the only possible genetic parent other than the woman who gave birth or the intended parent of a child conceived through assisted reproduction sign a voluntary declaration of parentage at the hospital before the birth certificate is submitted for registration. The birth certificate may be amended to add another parent’s name at a later date only if parentage for the child has been established by a judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction or by the filing of a voluntary declaration of parentage.

Therefore, a birth certificate DOES NOT establish legal parentage when parents are unmarried. Only signing a Voluntary Declaration of Parentage (VDOP) or obtaining a judgment in court legally establishes parentage for the children of unmarried parents. Parents may complete a VDOP at any time after the child’s birth, and both parents must voluntarily sign in front of an authorized witness.

For more information about birth certificates, please contact the California Department of Public Health Office of Vital Records at (916) 445-2684 or email VRmail@cdph.ca.gov.