Dad wants birth certificate corrected
Dear Mrs Macaulay,
My daughter is now 18 years old. I need to apply for her passport and start immigration proceedings for her to migrate to the USA. My problem is that her mother gave her another man's name and now I need to do an amendment or add my name to her birth certificate ASAP. I know I have to do a DNA test.
I already know she is mine and she has been living with my parents from she was two years of age. I spoke to someone in the court system and they told me that in order to do anything I will have to find the man whose name is on her birth certificate. I have two months to make all this happen and I live in the States.
Someone told me something about just adding my name and keeping her current one. Is this possible?
I must, before I go into the substance of your letter, deal with the fact that your daughter being now 18 years of age, is an adult. As a consequence of this, whatever application is made for the rectification of the naming of another man by her mother as her father at the registration if her birth, she must in her own right be a part of it.
So if you are applying for a declaration of paternity, apart from her mother consenting to your application, your daughter must also consent or join you in your application. As she is an adult, you cannot apply for her passport, she must do so herself.
I cannot help but wonder why you all waited so long before trying to do anything about this. You must have known since she was a baby or at least when she was about two years old when she went to live with your parents. You all must have had sight of the contents of her birth certificate and you could have applied easily and simply for the entry of this other man's name to be altered to yours and to also have your particulars included in the register.
Anyway, you say you have two months to act as you are seeking to have her emigrate to the United States and you have to sort out the necessary documentation, an important part of which must be proof that you are in fact her father.
The first way to achieve your goal is that you should of course apply (or cause the application to be prepared and filed on your behalf by a lawyer acting for you) to the Family Court for a declaration of paternity and consequential orders. This should be done in the court that serves the parish in which your daughter resides with your parents, or that in which her mother resides. Her mother will, of course, be the defendant named in your application as she caused the wrong man to be registered as the child's father. It should be explained to the intake officer of the court that your application would be a consent order application based on your admission of paternity (with your DNA result in hand to make assurances sure, if you have it and so save time); and the mother and your daughter should be encouraged to attend upon the officer at this stage to support your admission of paternity. Consequent upon these being done, the earliest date for the hearing of the application could be arranged with the assistance of the officers of the court.
However, both the mother and your daughter should also attend the hearing of the matter and personally attest to their consent to your application in the course of the proceedings in court. If you are all present on the date set for the hearing and meet the required evidential burden and those who should give their consents do so clearly and freely, then your application ought to be granted that day, and the declaration of your paternity and the necessary consequential orders for the rectification of the entry in the register would also be made then and there. Directions should be requested of the judge that the formal declaration and order be drawn up and submitted for signature that same day because of the urgency of yours and your daughter's situation. Once sealed copies (ask for two) are delivered to you, you can then rush off to the Registrar General's Department for the rectification of the entry in the register to be effected..
Another way you can try, is that there is provision in the Registration (Births and Deaths) Act that at any time after the registration of the birth of a child and a father's name is not registered as it ought to have been entered in the register, that you and the mother of your daughter can do a joint statutory declaration in which you both acknowledge the fact that you are the father of your daughter and apply for your name to be entered as such. If the Registrar General is satisfied with the declaration and any other evidence required had been produced (eg the consent of your daughter to your registration as her father, she being now an adult) the Registrar General may authorise such an entry of your name and particulars as the father.
However, I suspect that this provision may be interpreted to relate only to instances when no name of a father appears in the register. You should, however, go to the Registrar General's Department and ask them about the possibility of their accepting such a declaration from you and the mother and a supporting one of your daughter to get noted on it as the father. They may also require a statutory declaration of the man named and registered as the father, but it is for them to decide what they would deem to be satisfactory. I cannot say anything definitive about what their conclusion would be, though I do have a good idea what it would be.
Lastly, there is also the provision in the Act relating to the correction of errors in registers of births and in registration and entry books. The correction you want is not of a clerical error, which is done on the authority of the Registrar General by the officer designated for the purpose.
Your error is an error of substantial fact, and for such errors the Act provides that they can be corrected by entries being made in the margin but without any alteration of the original birth entry, by the officer who has custody of the particular book. The Act also provides that the requisite fee for such an alteration should be paid and that you, as the applicant for the connection of the error, should go to the office with a statutory declaration in which you have stated what the error in your daughter's birth entry is, and what the true facts are and what you are applying to be done. The mother must also make a similar statutory declaration and I would suggest, so must your daughter, and one or two other credible persons who know the truth of your paternity and how the other man come to be registered as father.
If the Registrar General's Department is satisfied with the contents of the statutory declarations, then they may act under this provision in the Act. You must realise, of course, that the means which is absolutely certain of success is a declaration of paternity made by the Family Court, where such an application would be dealt with quicker than one made to the Supreme Court.
As your time is short, please arrange that your application and the attendant supporting affidavits and /or appearances of the mother and your daughter are done and filed and arranged in the Family Court as quickly as possible on your behalf. I therefore strongly suggest that you retain the services of an attorney to assist you with the application and all that must be done to ensure that your application is successful in the quickest possible time.
I wish you and your daughter the very best and hope you proceed with your paternity application immediately and that you succeed.
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 allwoman@jamaicaobserver. com; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5.
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.