Dear Mrs Macaulay,
I would like to know if a child didn’t get his biological father’s name at birth, and he is now over 21, and both are in the United States, how can he get his biological father’s name added?
It is such a serious failure on the part of a mother who fails to proffer the name of the biological father of her child when reporting or causing the reporting of the birth of the child. This failure is a serious denial and violation of the child’s right to have their true familial name, and the right to their family and to have the support of the father and a relationship with him, and the right in the future to share in the father’s estate after the father’s death.
This young man’s mother failed her child at his birth and throughout his minority by doing nothing to rectify that failure and violation of his rights. Indeed, his maternal family also failed to assist him throughout the 21 years of his life. I trust that they would assist him now, by at least two of them being willing to and actually making statutory declarations of their memories of the relationship between his mother and his biological father, to support his application for a declaration of paternity, which is the least they can do. If his mother is still alive she must, of course, be one of the declarants, who can speak factually about her relationship with her son’s biological father and why she did not have his name and particulars recorded when the birth was being recorded, and why she took no steps about it thereafter. The son can only relate hearsay — what others told him — in his affidavit in support of his application and in so doing, he should say who told him what and when.
One course of action which the young man may choose to pursue is to file an application in court. To do so, he can and should obtain legal representation here in Jamaica, by engaging the services of an attorney-at-law to prepare and file an application on his behalf for a declaration of paternity, which would name his biological father as the respondent to the application and he as the applicant/claimant. He being an adult must make the application himself. The fact that he and his biological father reside in the United States would require that the application be made with the leave of the Supreme Court, which has a higher jurisdiction than the Family Court and has inherent jurisdiction to handle matters in the interests of justice. If either the son or the father do frequent visits to Jamaica and have residential addresses here, this would enable the making of the application an easier and straightforward process.
The application would require the court to order the taking of DNA tests at laboratories as designated in the order and for the results to be sent directly to the court’s registrar. If this course is pursued, greater facts would be provided to the attorney-at-law retained to act, and this person shall be in a better position to properly and fully advise the young man about the viability of such an application, which I am not in a position to do as your letter to me contains no facts which can assist me to determine the strength or weakness of the existing circumstances. I am therefore only pointing out the possible courses of action.
If the declaration of paternity is obtained then orders can be made for the registrar to make the entry in the applicant son’s birth records of his father’s name and particulars, and that a birth certificate with these addenda be issued to him.
Then, the use of a deed poll should also be considered. Again, the services of an attorney-at-law would be required to prepare the deed and have it stamped and recorded after it is properly executed before a notary public, whose appointment should be certified to be legally acceptable here. The deed poll would state the names the son was known by and that he wishes from then on to be known as so and so, with his father’s surname. The use of the duly recorded deed poll would enable him to change and rectify his documents.
If the biological father agrees to his son’s wish, this would make everything much easier to achieve.
I strongly suggest that before this young man decides on his course of action, that he contacts the Registrar General’s Department and give them full information and seek information from them about his wish to have recorded, and to have use of, his biological father’s name. The office may advise about the provision of his mother’s and father’s and his statutory declarations for the matter to be dealt with by them directly. So enquiries ought to be made at the office.
I wish this young man all the very best in his quest for his paternal roots and identification and familial relationship.
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.