In which I make oblique reference to a change in my personal circumstances

When you fill out a birth certificate in Wisconsin, there’s a “Mother’s Information” section and a “Husband’s Information” section.  If you’re unmarried, you’re not allowed to put the father’s name on the birth certificate.  You have to leave it blank, and petition the State Vital Records Office after the fact to get the father included.  And if you are married, you have to put the husband on the birth certificate, whether or not he’s the father of the child.   In fact, if you’re married to Mr. X, conceive a child by Mr. Y, and subsequently get divorced from Mr. X, the ex-Mrs.X still has to put Mr. X on the birth certificate.  He can only be removed by court order.

What can the rationale for this be?  I guess it must arise from acrimonious cases where the paternity of baby X is really unknown, but Mr. X, angry at having been cheated on and dumped, insists, rightly or not, that the baby is not his, and refuses to pay child support.

It is not at all clear how you’re supposed to fill out the form if you’ve been married to more than one man over the course of the pregnancy.

(Mrs. Q would like me to clarify that the abovementioned change in my personal circumstances is the one which entails filling out a birth certificate request with the State of Wisconsin, and does not involve any alterations in marital status, unknown biological parentage, or outstanding claims of child support.)

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17 thoughts on “In which I make oblique reference to a change in my personal circumstances

  1. Michelle says:


  2. Robert says:


    [The clarification was really helpful … I was thinking all sorts of scenarios :-))

  3. Yiftach says:


  4. Dear Jordan,


    Best wishes,


  5. Yep, a reminder of the `good old days`

    It`s there to save Mr.X`s face in the public.

    You know, they got the divorce because the women “had the issues”

    Hypo-crisis + Financial crisis = an interesting oucome

  6. Toby says:


  7. Dirty Davey says:

    I believe it is the case that when a child is born to a married woman, that woman’s husband is legally the father of the child regardless of his involvement (or lack thereof) in the conception.

  8. Jim says:


  9. Rebecca says:

    Mazel tov!

    The reason that children are legally the children of their mothers’ marriages is because until the advent of DNA testing, establishing paternity with certainty was impossible and questioning the paternity of a child was a long drawn-out process traumatic to the child.

  10. chanson says:

    It is not at all clear how you’re supposed to fill out the form if you’ve been married to more than one man over the course of the pregnancy.

    The laws regarding marriage and divorce may make that scenario difficult. I got a no-fault divorce in New Jersey, and — in addition to imposing a long waiting period of separation — the no-fault divorce would not have been legally possible if the wife is pregnant. (So a “fault” divorce would have been required, and who knows how long that takes?) Meanwhile, if my ex had found a new girlfriend and gotten her pregnant during the required separation, the no-fault divorce would still have been allowed to go through without a hitch!

    On the other end, some places require pregnancy tests if the woman is remarrying less than nine months after a divorce. (I don’t think a positive test would prevent the marriage, but the new husband would be legally informed of the result.)

  11. SQ says:

    Just get married already. Sheesh.

  12. JSE says:

    I guess I was too oblique. Mrs. Q and I are married.

  13. SQ says:

    I read “birth certificate request” as related to the court orders mentioned in your post. In that case, never mind. Congrats on your spawn. May he/she have many happy years.

  14. SQ says:

    I mean I thought you were petitioning the State Vital Records Office.

  15. Jason Starr says:


  16. Willie Wong says:

    Just saw your post, mazel tov!

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