Q: I recently applied for a name change and was denied due to the fact that my birth certificate only identifies my mother.
In the section for father, my birth certificate merely states “deceased”. I do not have any other knowledge of his identity. Is there any other route or action I can take?
Petitions for name changes are governed by Va. Code 8.01-271. Your dilemma seems to be related to the seemly poorly written statute paragraph B --- "B. Every application shall be under oath and shall include the place of residence of the applicant, the names of both parents, including the maiden name of his mother, the date and place of birth of the applicant, the applicant's felony conviction record, if any, whether the applicant is a person for whom registration with the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry is required pursuant to Chapter 9 (§ 9.1-900 et seq.) of Title 9.1, whether the applicant is presently incarcerated or a probationer with any court, and if the applicant has previously changed his name, his former name or names." However, the requirement is not that your birth certificate contains both names, rather it is that your application contain both names. If you do not know the name of your father and have no way to find that out, then you should identify in your petition your father as "John Doe, whose name and identity is unknown after diligent efforts to obtain such information" You may wish to include a detailed description of your diligent efforts to obtain the information. You may also be able to ask the clerk to issue a subpoena to any person who you believe knows the name but will not voluntarily disclose it. You should be prepared to argue to the court that the statute must certainly be read reasonably and that there would be no rational basis to treat the class of persons born where the identity of their fathers is unknown differently which would be an equal protection violation under the Constitution. The fact that the birth certificate states "deceased" suggests that the person supplying the information on your birth certificate knew enough of your father to state that he was deceased.
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