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In today’s society, there are many more options for becoming a parent. Whenever a child is born, the parents are typically listed on the birth certificate. But what if there is a disagreement about or between the child’s parents? In this article we answer the question: Who can sign the birth certificate when a child is born in Iowa? Specifically, we address:

  • Who is Listed on a Birth Certificate in Iowa?
  • How to Establish Paternity in Iowa if Mother Was Unmarried
  • Surrogacy in Iowa & the Birth Certificate

Who is Listed on a Birth Certificate in Iowa?

When a “live birth” occurs anywhere in Iowa, Iowa Code requires that a certificate of birth be filed as directed by the state registrar within seven days. It includes facts about the birth, medical information about the child born, and the identities of the child’s parents.  If the mother was married at the time of conception, birth or anytime between, her husband is listed as the father of the child on the birth certificate unless paternity has been established for another man by a court of competent jurisdiction. If the mother was not married at the time of conception, birth or anytime between, and paternity has not been established for anyone pursuant to section 252A.3A, no name shall be entered for the father on the birth certificate. If the name of the father is not listed on the birth certificate, no other information about him shall be entered. See Iowa Code 144.13 for more on birth certificates in Iowa.  

How to Establish Paternity in Iowa if Mother Was Unmarried

If the biological father is identified and agrees with the biological mother to be listed on the birth certificate, the parties must first establish paternity through a court of competent jurisdiction. This may be accomplished by submitting a signed Paternity Affidavit to your county courthouse. The affidavit states that the man is the biological and legal father of the child and will be added to the birth certificate. This may also be accomplished before the child’s birth by instead submitting a Declaration of Paternity to the Iowa State registrar. For more on paternity in Iowa, check out our article Iowa Paternity Law Updates 2021 | Recent Changes to Iowa Paternity Laws.

If the biological mother refuses to sign an affidavit establishing a man as the child’s father, the father’s last course of action is to petition the court the establish paternity. This may require blood or genetic testing. Absent a determination of paternity or other action demonstrating a desire to assume the responsibility of a father, any man not listed on the birth certificate will usually not have any custodial rights to the child. The child’s mother, however, will also be unable to receive child support. For more information on what to do if you are not on the birth certificate and would like to be added, check out our article What Can a Father Do If His Name is Not On The Birth Certificate in Iowa?.

Surrogacy in Iowa & the Birth Certificate

In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate acts as the egg donor, and is therefore the child’s biological mother. This woman has parenting rights with respect to the child at the moment of birth and may be listed on the birth certificate along with the intended father (who’s sperm was used to create the child). In order to get the intended mother’s name on the birth certificate, the parental rights of the surrogate will need to be terminated. By contrast, in gestational surrogacy, the surrogate does not have any genetic relationship to the baby, and is not it’s biological mother. Therefore, no parenting rights belong to her in this situation, and the child’s biological parents, the intended parents, are listed on the birth certificate.  

The Iowa Code implicitly permits gestational surrogacy by exempting surrogacy contracts from prohibition, and language in an Iowa case, P.M. & C.M. v. T.B. & D.B., suggests that traditional surrogacy contracts are enforceable as well. No. 17-0376 (February 16, 2018). The State of Iowa allows the intended parents to file “pre-birth parentage orders”, which instruct the institution in which a child is born to enter the intended parents’ names on the birth certificate. However, under Iowa law, it is only a partial order. Only the intended or biological father is permitted to obtain a pre-birth order. The non-biological parent must then undergo a post-birth process to terminate the gestational carrier’s rights and establish the second parent’s legal rights.

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s birth certificate or possible amendments to it, you should speak with an experienced attorney. Call our office at (630) 324-6666 or schedule a consultation. You can also fill out our confidential contact form and we will get back to you shortly.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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