It is not an uncommon situation, when you have a child born out of wedlock, that the paternal father’s name may not appear on the child’s birth certificate. The question is then what difference does it make if the father’s name is present on the birth certificate, verses if it is not.

In Kansas, whether or not a man’s name appears on a child’s birth certificate can indeed have an impact in Court proceedings where paternity (or parentage of a child) is at issue. However, scholars and practitioners alike have argued just how much significance or importance it carries. Kan. Stat. Ann. 23-2208 et seq. is the controlling statutory provision on this question. Pursuant to Kan. Stat. Ann. 23-2208, a man’s name being on the child’s birth certificate can create a “presumption” of paternity at best. To be clear, this means that even if a man’s name does appear on a child’s birth certificate, that fact alone does not conclusively, or legally, establish paternity. Rather, it only creates a presumption of paternity. One that can be rebutted by other evidence should such an occurrence arise where the parentage of a child is in dispute. The relevant statutory language reads as follows:

  1. A man is presumed to be the father of a child if: …
    1. After the child’s birth, the man and the child’s mother have married, or attempted to marry, each other by a marriage solemnized in apparent compliance with law, although the attempted marriage is void or voidable and:
      1. The man has acknowledged paternity of the child in writing;
      2. with the man’s consent, the man is named as the child’s father on the child’s birth certificate; or
      3. the man is obligated to support the child under a written voluntary promise or by a court order.See Kan. Stat. Ann. § 23-2208 (a) (3).

As the above language again indicates, the presence of a man’s name on a child’s birth certificate can create a presumption of paternity under the appropriate circumstances. However, this presumption does not create any form of legal rights or responsibility in and of itself. For more information on what creating a presumption of paternity means, and what may come after establishing this presumption, please see this article.

Having addressed what it means if a man’s name is present on a child’s birth certificate, it is necessary to also address what it means if a man’s name is not on a child’s birth certificate. Which again can be common in situations where a child is born outside of wedlock. In short, whether or not a man’s name appears on a child’s birth certificate has very little impact in judicial proceeding in Kansas when addressing matters relating to paternity. This means that regardless of whether you are simply trying to establish paternity in the first instance, or addressing more complex matters like child support or visitation that are related to paternity, courts in Kansas generally do not place a significant amount of emphasis on a man’s name being present on a birth certificate. This is because, as alluded to above, the presence of a man’s name on a child’s birth certificate will at best create a presumption of paternity. It again creates no legal rights or responsibilities standing alone. To do this, either one or both of the parents of a child must institute a formal Paternity Proceeding and must go to Court to get an Order legally establishing paternity. For more information on what creating a presumption of paternity means, and what may come after establishing this presumption, please see this article.

This above generally good news for fathers who learn their names may not be on a child’s birth certificate after the child has been born. It is not uncommon to find father’s in these situations concerned that their rights and privileges may somehow be diluted or reduced simply due to their name being absent from a child’s birth certificate. This is simply not the case, however.

Should a father find himself in this specific situation, there is recourse. Once paternity has legally been established in Court, via a Court order, the father of a child may petition the Court to have the State and its corresponding agencies issue a new birth certificate wherein the child’s father is appropriately named. While there are many reasons that it is important to have a new birth certificate issued should a father learn they are not named on the original birth certificate, two of the most common relate to securing health insurance and survivor related benefits for a child. That is, without being named on a birth certificate, many insurance carriers and other benefit provides will not allow a parent to insure or secure benefits for a minor child they are claiming is their direct decedent (as opposed to a situation where a legal adoption would be involved, or where an individual may add a child to their family by way of remarriage).