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Adjusting the paternity on a birth certificate in Texas

When a baby is born in Texas, the state issues a birth certificate in order to document important details such as the child's name, date of birth, sex and parentage. For most people, their birth certificate will remain the same for the rest of their lives. For others, it may be necessary to amend certain details--whether the birth certificate is yours, or your child's.  If a child is born during a marriage, there is a legal presumption that the husband is the biological father of the child.

One of the most common reasons for amending a birth certificate is to amend the paternity by adding or changing the father's name. If you wish to amend the paternity or parentage on a birth certificate, Texas has a set of procedures that you must follow.

The first step in changing the paternity or parentage is to fill out the correct application for a new birth certificate. In this case, download and print Form VS-166--the Application for New Birth Certificate Based on Parentage.

You will also need to submit one of three types of supporting documentation along with your application. You must include either:

  • A copy of a marriage license between the mother and father that occurred after the child's birth
  • An Acknowledgment of Paternity--that is, a legal document signed by the child's mother and biological father acknowledging his paternity
  • A copy of the court decree that establishes paternity

After you have completed the form, send it to Texas Vital Statistics in Austin. (The mailing address is listed on the application.) There a $25 fee required for a new certificate, and an additional fee of $22 for each additional certificate you want to order. If you prefer, you can bring the relevant forms and documents to Texas Vital Statistics in person.

If the child's paternity has already been established by a court decree, then only one parent is required to sign the application. If not, then both parents must sign the application for it to be approved. In either case, Form VS-166 must be notarized in the presence of everyone who has signed the document.

Once all these steps are completed, a specialist will review your application; if it is accepted, you will receive the new birth certificate in the mail within approximately four weeks. If the application is not accepted, you will be contacted with further details and instructions.

For assistance in seeking a court decree establishing or changing the legal paternity of a child, an experienced Texas Board-certified family law attorney can help concerned parents establish or change legal paternity.

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