Does Not Being Named on the Birth Certificate Affect Child Custody or Child Support?

Infants / babies with only one pare named on the birth certificate

In the world of child custody / access and child support, whose names in on the birth certificate matters very little, if at all.  It can mean that the mother can do more without getting the father's (or other parent's) consent.


In custody / access cases, the judge bases decisions on what is in the best interest of the child.  Who is named on the birth certificate does not influence that.  In fact, section 21 of the Children's Law Reform Act says that you do not even need to be a parent to apply for custody or access to child.  Section 24 of the Children’s Law Reform Act sets out the factors that a judge has to consider in custody/access cases in family court.  This popular page explains those factors, and so does this podcast, so you do not have to understand how to read the statute.  However, in Ontario child custody law, genetics is only one very small factor in that determination, and is rarely an important one. 

The term custody means who makes decisions for  a child.  To learn more about that, watch this video and read this page.  The reality is that not putting a father's name on a birth certificate essentially gives the mother sole custody.  Without the second name on the birth certificate, many agencies assume the father is unknown, and they do not look for his consent for things like medical treatment, school registration, issuing a passport or giving consent to travel (see this page for more on travel consents).   So, if you care about those things, then you should go to court to get an order that your consent is required too.

If the mother, whose name is on the birth certificate, says that she does not know who the father is, section 10 of the Children's Law Reform Act allows the Family Court to order DNA testing.

Child Support

You do not even need to be a biological parent to pay child support (Step parents, grand-parents and other involved people may be on the hook for child support - to understand that, read this page and listen to this podcast).  However, biological parents (who can be determined by the aforementioned DNA test) always pay the FULL table amount of child support.   The Child Support Guidelines make no mention of birth certificates.  Everyone who has actively parented a child pays child support for that child and biological (or adoptive) parents pay the full amount of child support, whether they are involved parents or not (unless they are not involved because the child has been adopted to someone else).

Ontario Family Law Podcast

For more on child support, watch this video:, listen to this podcast,  and read this page.

Also, if you think you might be the parent of a child, avoiding paying child support likely won’t help.  The Family Court can order you to pay back child support, even when that is a lot of money. 

There are lots of ways to get yourself into trouble in family law.  If you think you are the parent of a child, you really should speak to a good family law lawyer.  You should also pick up a copy of this $20 easy-to-understand book on Ontario Family Law.  It covers the issues above in much more detail and gives some tips to keep you out of trouble in family court or in other family law matters.

Guide to the Basic of Ontario Family Law (Book)

Still, nothing is better than consulting with a lawyer about the particulars of your situation, to get legal advice that is tailored to you.  Even small things can make a big difference, so it is always worthwhile to speak to a top family law lawyer.  To get in touch with Certified Specialist in Family Law, John Schuman, please call the number at the top of the page or use the form below.  You can also use the form to post comments on this page, or suggest other blog topics.

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Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law Available on KindleiBookstore_140x70

© John P. Schuman 2014