Who is the daddy?
Thousands of children registered last year without their fathers' names on their birth certificates
Arthur Hall, Senior News Editor
More than 36 per cent of the children born in Jamaica in the 2012-2013 financial year do not have their fathers' names on their birth certificates.
The Registrar General's Depart-ment (RGD) is reporting that 37,223 births occurred in Jamaica in 2012-2013.
However, 13,436 of these children born do not have their fathers' particulars, name, age and occupation on record.
According to the RGD, the number of persons over the years without a father on record is significantly high.
The RGD conducts bedside registration in hospitals and birthing centres islandwide, and fathers who are not married to their children's mothers are encouraged to utilise these opportunities to place their names on the birth record.
In the event that this opportunity is missed, the RGD will allow for updating of the records through an 'Addition of Father's Particulars', popularly called 'Status'.
Mothers have been encouraged to have the baby's father at the hospital for free registration but many fathers remain reluctant to add their particulars.
The RGD says it will use the celebration of Father's Day next Sunday as a platform to create awareness of the importance of the importance of fathers adding their particulars to their children's record.
A special registration desk is to be set up at the RGD's head office in Twickenham Park, St Catherine, and the first 10 fathers who do a status update between June 10 and 28 will be presented with a Father's Day gift, courtesy of sponsors.
A justice of the peace will also be available at the RGD's office to certify the relevant forms.
Education Minister Ronald Thwaites has long pushed for the necessary legislative work to make it mandatory for the names of fathers to be on birth certificates.
The mandatory registration of fathers has been an outstanding issue since the 1970s, although attempts have been made throughout the years to expand the provisions of the registration of fathers.
In May 2011, the Bruce Golding-led Cabinet approved the issuing of drafting instructions to the chief parliamentary counsel to facilitate amendments to the Registration (Births and Deaths) Act 1881.
The amendments were to provide for the inclusion of the names of unmarried fathers in the registration of births.
The proposed amendments would also provide that every child should be registered and that the father is named at the time of registration.
Should the mother be unable to declare the father's name, she would have to provide the reason for this on the appropriate section of the relevant form.
Penalties were to be included for misrepresentation or refusal of the mother to name the father.
The Status of Children's Act dictates that where a father has not legally established paternity by placing his particulars on his child's record, his child has no legal basis on which to claim inheritance in the event that he dies without leaving a will.
Similarly, if the father outlives the child, he must have established paternity before the child dies in order to benefit from the child's estate - provided that his child died without leaving a will.
Additionally, where immigration petitions are concerned, a father cannot 'file' for his child if his name is not on the child's birth certificate.
The reverse also applies where the child desires to petition or file for the father.
International research into paternity establishment has shown that the addition of a father's name to his child's birth record has several emotional and psychological benefits, including giving children a sense of belonging, the opportunity to know family roots, and also lays a foundation for a good father-child relationship.
Updating your status at the RGD
In doing a status, the parents must complete a status application form, available in RGD's 10 offices and on its website, and return it to any RGD office with both parents' identification cards and the relevant payment.
The status form consists of two sections: (1) mother's declaration; and (2) father's acknowledgement
The mother's declaration must be completed and signed by the mother in the presence of a justice of the peace, attorney-at-law, clerk of the courts, registered medical practitioner, minister of religion, marriage officer, midwife, principal or head of a defined public education institution, who must affix his/her signature and seal.
In the case where the mother/father resides overseas, he/she must sign the declaration in the presence of a notary public.
Additionally, a certified copy of the parent's identification card must accompany the application.