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Adding and Removing Fathers
There are two general ways to establish paternity (i.e. adding the father). They are
- Administratively, which means through the Vital Registration office. There are strict rules as to what situations can be handled without involving the court system. It is usually easier, quicker and less expensive to establish paternity administratively than doing so judicially.
- Judicially, which means through the court system. A Judge makes a judgment on the question of who the father is, and instructs us to either put the father on the certificate, or take him off.
Establishing Paternity Administratively
If no father is listed on the birth certificate, Vital Registration may add a father administratively under the following situations. Vital Registration needs to have a court order in order to remove a father already listed on the birth certificate.IMPORTANT: A married couple is considered legally married until either the date the divorce is finalized or until the death of the husband or wife.
- Mother is unmarried, and has been so for at least 10 months prior to birth
If the mother is unmarried and has not been married for at least 10 months prior to the birth, a Declaration of Paternity Affidavit may be filed with this office to add the father. The Declaration of Paternity Affidavit must be signed by both the mother and the father, and both signatures must be notarized, but the document may be signed at different times, and in front of different notaries.
- Mother is (or has been) married, but not to the biological Father
If the mother is currently married, or was married sometime within 10 months of the birth of the child, she will need to file a Declaration of Paternity Affidavit (signed by both the mother and the father, and both signatures must be notarized) and one of the three documents listed below for Vital Registration to administratively establish paternity .
- Divorce Decree
If the mother is in the process of divorcing her husband, the divorce decree can be used to establish paternity. The decree should state specifically that the husband is not the father of the child. The mother must send in a certified copy of the divorce decree with the Declaration of Paternity Affidavit in order for Vital Registration to add the father to the birth certificate. Vital Registration will return the divorce decree to the mother.
- Affidavit of Nonpaternity
Can only be used within ONE YEAR from the Child's Birth. The mother and her husband (or former husband) may complete an affidavit of nonpaternity. The husband (or former husband) and the mother both must sign the affidavit and both signatures must be notarized. The mother and biological father must also complete an affidavit of paternity. Once again, both must sign and both signatures must be notarized.
- DNA Testing
Can only be used within ONE YEAR from the Child's Birth. A genetic (DNA) test is performed and the results that shows a statistical probability of greater than 98% that the alleged father is the biological father. The test must be "legal" test conducted by an accredited laboratory.
- Divorce Decree
- Mother and Biological Father were married AFTER the birth of the child
This process is called legitimation. In order to execute a legitimation, Vital Registration will need a certified copy of the marriage certificate (unless the marriage occurred in the state of West Virginia.) and a signed and notarized paternity affidavit or a notarized letter stating that the husband is the father of the child.
Judicial Paternity Establishment
To establish paternity judicially, a court must issue a court order instructing Vital Registration who to list on the birth certificate as the father. Typically, this will require the mother to hire an attorney, and go to court, but there are some courts that will let the the mother represent herself. For more information, please contact the circuit court directly.
Page was last updated on Thursday, March 15, 2012 11:57 AM