Adding a Father's Name to a Birth Certificate in Pennsylvania

By Teo Spengler

Updated December 12, 2018

Close up of unrecognizable father holding his newborn baby son


If you are a new father and not married, you'll have to jump through a few hoops to add your name to a Pennsylvania birth certificate. Your name gets included only after a court adjudicates paternity, after you and the mother file an Affidavit of Paternity, or after you marry the child's mother.

Unmarried Couples and Birth Certificates in Pennsylvania

When a married couple have a newborn, both the mother's and father's names are automatically placed on the child's birth certificate. However, when the couple isn't married, Pennsylvania law does not allow that to happen.

Under a statute that became effective in 1998, a man cannot be automatically listed on a child's birth certificate if the child's mother is unmarried. If both mother and father agree, they can file a document called Acknowledgment of Paternity with the Department of Public Welfare. In this affidavit, they both swear under penalty of perjury that the man is the child's biological father.

For children born after the effective date of the law, once an Acknowledgement of Paternity is filed, the father can just sit back and wait. The Department of Public Welfare notifies the Pennsylvania Division of Vital Records that the Acknowledgment of Paternity was filed. Vital Records then adds the father’s name to the child’s birth certificate, and a corrected birth certificate listing both parents’ names is sent to the couple.

If the mother refuses to cooperate with this procedure, the father can seek a court determination of paternity from the family court in Pennsylvania. The court will order DNA testing and, assuming it proves that the man is the father, it will be sufficient grounds to get his name added to the birth certificate.

Correcting a Birth Certificate After a Marriage

In Pennsylvania, the law takes a better-late-than-never view of unmarried parents marrying. If the biological parents of a child tie the knot, they can correct the child's birth certificate even if the marriage comes after the birth of their child. If the mother did not put someone else's name on the birth certificate as the biological father, this procedure changes the child’s last name to that of the father and also adds the father's name to the birth certificate.

To undertake this, complete a Change in Civil Status form. List both the name of the father and the new name of the child as you want them recorded on the amended birth certificate. Both mother and father must sign the form before a notary and submit a copy of their marriage certificate.