How Long Does A Father Have To Sign A Birth Certificate?

Unless you already have children, you may have assumed that the name of both mother and father of a child is written down for the birth certificate after the birth has taken place, but this is not always the case, and for unmarried parents, the process is a little different. 

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In most circumstances, if the father is present at birth and both parents want the name of the father written down on the birth certificate, then they’ll both be able to fill out the appropriate paperwork confirming the identity of the father and also establish that both parents are established paternity of the child. 

There is some uncertainty around what happens if the father of the child is not present at the birth or is not around to sign the birth certificate.

How Long Does A Father Have To Sign A Birth Certificate

Can they sign the birth certificate at a later date and how do you go about it? Or has the opportunity passed and the father will be unable to put their name and sign the birth certificate to establish paternity.

We’ll be clearing up some of this confusion within this article and also telling you how long a father has to sign a birth certificate if they are even allowed to do so. 

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Married Couples & The Birth Certificate

If the parents of the child are married at birth, then they’ll both assume parental responsibility for the child and the signing of the birth certificate can normally be done straight after the birth as long as everything has gone well and hospitals will need to have registered the birth of the baby within 5 to 10 days of the child being born.

As both parents will be named on the birth certificate, they’ll both bear all responsibility for the child, including financial ones, so if either parent was to walk away from the marriage and the family, the other could claim child support as they’re the other is named a legal parent. 

Unmarried Couples & The Birth Certificate

Biological mothers have automatic parental responsibility to the child, however, this is not the case for all biological fathers. Unmarried fathers do not have automatic parental responsibility of the child and it’ll be up to the mother whether they would like the father to be named on the birth certificate. 

An unmarried father can only register the birth of the child on his own if the mother of the child has made a voluntary declaration that acknowledges the unmarried father as the other parent of the child. The mother can add the father’s name to the birth certificate at any time she likes.

However, there are some circumstances where a mother may not put the name of the father on the birth certificate by choice (mainly when things are not amicable), which means the father will have to take some alternative methods to establish their parental responsibility. 

If the mother is refusing to acknowledge the father as a parent of the child, then the father can go through the court to get a declaration of parentage where they’ll need to carry out a DNA test to confirm their identity and paternity of the child.

Once this has been confirmed the court will then be able to re-register the birth and the father will be named on the birth certificate. 

The above process is often carried out by fathers who were not informed of the pregnancy and birth of the child originally and would like to seek parental responsibility for the child in hopes to be able to see them and also financially support them. 

Without the father’s name on the birth certificate, they hold no legal rights over the child. No law prevents a mother from not naming the father on the birth certificate. Only married fathers will be automatically named on the birth certificate.

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Can A Father Refuse To Accept Parental Responsibility?

Yes, unfortunately, it is not unusual for some fathers to refuse to acknowledge the parental responsibility of their child and not sign the birth certificate. This means the mother has sole legal rights and all responsibilities for the child.

Without the father’s signature on the birth certificate, then the mother will not be able to file for child support from the father and they’ll bear all financial responsibility for the child themselves. 

Close-up of birth certificate

How Long Does A Father Have To Sign The Birth Certificate?

The normal process for signing the birth certificate will need to be done within 5 to 10 days after the birth of the child and it can take up to 30 days for the child to be registered and then even longer for the birth certificate to come in the post. 

However, this does not mean if the father is not named on the birth certificate within this time then they’ll be unable to be named on there as there are processes you can go through to establish parental responsibility and be named on the birth certificate at a later date. 

There are two ways in which a father can assume parental responsibility at a later date and that’s by voluntary acknowledgment by the mother or a state-established legal process that may involve DNA testing to confirm the father’s identity. 


To finalize, a father’s name can be added to a birth certificate at any later date as long as the mother agrees with it and has signed the appropriate paperwork to confirm established shared parental responsibility.

All married fathers will automatically have their name put down on the birth certificate and will then share parental responsibility for the child with the mother. 

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