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

In the world of child custody/access and child support, whose names are on the birth certificate matter 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 the 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. 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. 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 by someone else).

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 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. You can get it and start reading it in minutes for $9.99 from the Canadian Kindle StoreKobo, or as an iBook for iPad, iPhone or Mac, or you can order the paperback.

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.

Finally, if you find this page helpful, please share it. There are social networking buttons below. Please also leave your comments at the bottom of the page.

John Schuman Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law book cover

You can get a lot more information about Ontario Family Law issues, including a comprehensive explanation of parenting cases (parenting time and decision making), child support, spousal support, property division, and most other common family law issues by downloading this $9.99 Kindle eBook, Kobo eBook, or iBook for your iPad or iPhone or ordering it from Amazon as a paperback. But to understand how the law works precisely in your situation, it is always best to speak to a good Family Law Lawyer.

To comment on this article, or to contact John Schuman, please use the form below.

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