Ask the Lawyer: Why is Correcting the Birth Certificate Important?

A birth certificate is used for travel, passport, proof of citizenship, social security, driver’s license, school registration, personal identification, entitlement to death benefits, child support, health insurance, student registration, conduct financial transactions for a minor child, verifying child entitlement to parent’s pension or other retirement benefits, eligibility as beneficiary of parent’s estate to name a few.

Therefore, it is important to have a correct, or corrected, birth certificate and taking action may be necessary to avoid future issues for your children.

The law requires that the Department of Health name the woman who gestates and gives birth to a child as the Mother of the child on the birth certificate. Since same-sex marriage is permitted in Pennsylvania, both the biological mother and same-sex spouse are now permitted to be placed on the application for the birth records if accommodated through the hospital provider and caseworker for implementation.

The second parent for same-sex marriage may be named on the birth certificate if:

  1. married
  2. provided an acknowledgement of paternity is filed with the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare if unmarried
  3. by Court Order for an Intended Father or unmarried same-sex partner

However, if the same-sex spouse is not named on the birth certificate, further action will need to be taken to include the second-parent on the birth certificate. Step-parent or second-parent adoption will ensure this and other rights of the Intended Parents.

Pre-birth orders, or the correction of a birth certificate that does not name the other parent, are important upon birth not only because they act as proof of a person’s identity, but also because they demonstrate parentage and the existence of a parent/child relationship. This is especially important if the parents are unmarried.

When dealing with legal issues as a result of infertility or infertility treatments, you should speak to an attorney experienced in the knowledge of Assisted Reproductive Technology Law as well as Health Care and Employment Law as all of these potential legal issues may be applicable to your personal situation and understanding the law and your options is paramount in the forefront of your journey.

Written by: Dorota Gasienica-Kozak, Esquire,
Chair of the KingSpry Adoption/ART Law Practice Group

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