Establishing paternity is a big and often challenging part of birth registration. Birth registrars are required to provide an opportunity for unmarried parents to establish paternity through the Recognition of Parentage program, but sometimes it is difficult to know if a couple is married or not. Proof of marriage is not required when completing a birth record and you don’t need to be the “marriage police,” but sometimes additional conversation is needed to determine marital status.
Like Minnesota, most states require a license to marry. A license records a marriage as legal. But what about marriages that occur outside of the United States? For the sake of simplicity, The Office of Vital Records considers international weddings “legal,” too. Because not every nation documents vital events the way the United States does, sometimes the birth registrar must ask clarifying questions. Unmarried parents and parents who have cultural marriages need to be identified so they have an opportunity to acknowledge paternity at the time of their child’s birth.
Here are a couple great phrases to use when you are unsure:
- If you married before moving to the U.S., you are considered married for purposes of paternity.
- If you married religiously/culturally in the United States without obtaining, completing, and filing a marriage license required by state law, you are considered unmarried for purposes of paternity.
Once you file the birth record, complete a hospital statement if any changes to marital status are required.
Heads Up - Look for Registrar Survey
Coming later this month, all Minnesota birth registrars and Minnesota Registration & Certification System (MR&C) users with birth registration access will receive an electronic survey from the Office of Vital Records.
Through a series of multiple choice questions, users will anonymously provide information about the way birth records are processed at their facility and their personal knowledge of birth data. The survey should take about 15 minutes to complete.
We will use the results of this survey to identify potential problem areas and hard-to-find data items to help us develop training and resources for birth registrars. We also hope to quantify both the number of Minnesota hospitals and birth centers with clinician-provided data and your overall confidence in birth record information. This will help us inform researchers who use birth data and also make recommendations for improved birth registration processes.
Please complete the survey as soon as possible. Your opinions and responses will help us better understand and document the challenges of this work. We will use the results to develop best-practice recommendations for hospital administrators to improve workflow and birth data. Survey results will be compiled and aggregate data (not specific to user or facility) will be available in the spring.