How to get my biological father's name on my birth certificate
This is an enquiry as to what procedure should be followed through the courts to change a surname given at birth. This is not uncommon in Jamaica as paternity is sometimes challenged, especially at the time that mothers seek to secure maintenance through the court. The father's defence is: "It wasn't me."
The person writes: "I acquired this email address from a friend, I have no idea who exactly I am writing, however, I was told it's a lawyer's email address. I would like to find out how I could go through the court to have my given surname at birth removed from my birth certificate, that I can add my biological name. Is it at all possible? The problem is that my given surname at registration was admittedly wrong. If the court does provide for such a circumstance, I would really like to know how to go about starting the process."
An application can be made to the court to ask the court to amend lines nine to 12 of the birth registration form to reflect the name of your father. Lines nine to 12 carry the particulars of the father. You may also get a declaration from the court as to who is your biological father.
In my view, the application is best made by your mother or guardian. What is critical is the information presented in the supporting affidavit. The easy way is to go to court and have a DNA paternity test ordered by the court. If that comes back with what you called your biological father as the likely person as your father, then it becomes the best evidence to be presented. With DNA in hand, it would be easy to get an order to change your surname as that of your biological father. If your mother is alive, her affidavit would just indicate the reason for the 'mix-up' of the names on the birth registration form and the role played in your life by the man you called your biological father.
It gets a little more difficult if your mother is dead and/or the biological father is dead. If, say, your mother is dead, you could get a supporting affidavit from any adult person who was living with your mother at the time or who was living close to your mother to say that he/she had seen your father visiting your mother on a regular basis before she got pregnant, and after she became pregnant, he was still visiting and playing a supporting role. The affidavit could also include the kind of support to include maintenance. Your being a child of your father could speak to times when your father would visit or if he had lived at home, how he accepted you as his son. It may also be that you could speak to situations where your father had taken you to his parents and the time you spent with his parents, and how he introduced you to your other sisters and brothers. These are indications that you were accepted and recognised by the man you called your biological father.
So what is important, in the absence of DNA and/or other scientific evidence, is cogent and persuasive evidence that the person who you say is your biological father is indeed your biological father and that he had accepted and recognised you as his son, during his lifetime (if he is dead) or even now. I should also indicate that you also get an affidavit from the person who you regard as your biological father to explain his role in your birth, and why he believes his name was not entered on the birth registration form as your father.
After the court order is obtained, you have to approach the Registrar General's Department to effect the registration or amendment of the birth registration form.
It might be best to secure the services of an attorney-at-law to assist you with the court aspect of the matter.
Keith N. Bishop is an attorney-at-law and partner in the firm of Bishop & Fullerton. He may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.