What rights does a father have if he is not on the birth certificate in Iowa?

What Happens if the Father’s Name is Not on the Birth Certificate in Iowa?

Video by Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Article written by Illinois & Iowa Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
December 2, 2019

In this article, we answer the question, “What happens if the father's name is not on the birth certificate in Iowa?” We’ll address the following:

  • What rights does a father have if he is not on the birth certificate in Iowa?
  • Why would a father not be on the birth certificate in Iowa?
  • How a child is affected when the father’s name is not on the birth certificate
  • What can a father do if he is not listed on the birth certificate in Iowa?
  • Can a father be added to a birth certificate? What if the wrong father is listed?

What rights does a father have if he is not on the birth certificate in Iowa?

By signing a baby’s birth certificate, a father acknowledges his legal relationship with the child. But whether by choice or circumstance, a father whose name is not listed on a birth certificate does not have any legal rights to a child. This includes asking for custody, visitation, or child support. On the same token, a mother cannot seek child support from a man not listed as the father on a child’s birth certificate.

Why would a father not be on the birth certificate in Iowa?

There are several scenarios that can result in a father’s name and signature not being added to a child’s birth certificate. The mother may choose to not tell the father about her pregnancy or notify him when she goes into labor. She may not know who the father is or, if she does know who the father is, she may not be able to locate him.

If there is any doubt of paternity from either the mother or the suspected father, he will not be put on the birth certificate.

How a child is affected when the father’s name is not on the birth certificate

A father’s name may be left off a child’s birth certificate because his relationship with the mother is strained. But doing this can have adverse effects. Without acknowledgment of his legal relationship with a child, a father is unable to ask for custody or visitation. This directly affects the child.


A father not listed on a birth certificate cannot be ordered to pay child support either, which can leave a child with less resources and opportunities. A child can also be covered by their father’s health insurance plan if paternity has been established.

What can a father do if he is not on the birth certificate in Iowa?

If a father believes himself to be the biological father of a child and for whatever reason is not listed on the child’s birth certificate, the first step he should take is to establish paternity. This is done by signing an affidavit of paternity.


One of two scenarios will play out. If the mother signs the affidavit, paternity is established. If the mother refuses to sign the affidavit, the father can request a court-ordered DNA test. If results show him to be the father, paternity is established.

Can a father be added to a birth certificate? What if the wrong father is listed?

Birth certificates can be amended in Iowa. If paternity has been established, a father can be added to a birth certificate at any time. If the wrong father is listed on a birth certificate, it can be amended with the correct father once a DNA test has been administered. There is typically a fee to amend an original birth certificate and the process can take several weeks.


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Why would a father not be on the birth certificate in Iowa?

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