Dear Mrs Macaulay,
I have an issue where the father on my birth certificate is the wrong man. My mother went abroad where I was conceived but not born, but she was still married to a Jamaican man and they were separated. I was born in Jamaica and my mother's husband's name was placed as my father because my real father wasn't there to sign. My mother's now ex-husband knows that he is not my father and my biological father knows that he is. I am now 18. How do I go about making these corrections? I live in The Bahamas where my biological father is from and where my mother resides on a work permit and I on a student permit about to go on a work permit, and I want to fix my birth certificate so that I can apply for citizenship or permanent residence.
Thank you for you help.
I must correct what you have stated as the reason why your mother's husband was registered as your father. The fact is that the responsibility for this having happened rests solely with your mother. She should have given the registrar at the hospital after your birth the name and address of your real father which would have been entered in your birth records and the registrar general of births and deaths would have sent him a notice and if he did not reply denying paternity, the registration of him as your father would have been effected. This is the law.
It is also the law that whenever a married woman gives birth to a child and her husband is alive and the marriage still exists, unless she says otherwise, the child is presumed as a matter of law to be the child of her husband. So, you see, your mother caused this issue with which you have to exist and left the falsity of the registration of your father to remain on your records until you became 18 years of age. This was a fraud committed against her ex-husband, who you say knows that he is not your father.
I am not sure if your biological father also knew the true facts before now. This is also an offence under the Registration (Births and Deaths) Act, though I must say that I personally do not know about anyone being prosecuted for such an offence, the penalty for which is a small fine or imprisonment for a very short term, the maximum being three months.
You ask how you can go about making these corrections. Well, my dear, you will have to make your application here in Jamaica, and as no application was made to correct the 'error' in your birth records within 12 months of your birth, you as an adult must now apply for the correction to be made.
You will need sworn statutory declarations from yourself grounding your application and stating clear what you want done in it, and from your mother and your biological father. He must state that he knows and accepts the fact that he is your father and they must both state the fact of your mother's mis-statement of your father's identity and she must explain how it happened and why. It may be helpful if your biological father attaches a DNA result of a test proving that he is in fact your father to his affidavit.
All this is for an application made to the Registrar General pursuant to the Registration of (Births and Deaths) Act. I should warn you that the registrar may decide not to accede to your application without a declaration of paternity made by a Family or the Supreme Court. On the other hand, if the registrar is satisfied that the contents of the statutory declarations submitted by you are credible, then your application would in all probability be granted.
You may in the extreme have to apply to the Supreme Court for an order for the change to be effected and that a re-registration be effected. The Registrar General also has the power to do this, but you must apply.
I hope I have clarified the position for you and that you will move ahead to rectify your birth records.
All the best wishes.
Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org ; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.