Amending birth, marriage in NYS

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rgaetano
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Amending birth, marriage in NYS

Postby rgaetano » 20 Feb 2011, 15:14

Hi,
I am in the process of trying to amend birth (GF) and marriage certificates (GGF) for small spelling mistakes in the last name (one letter in each case).

I am working with a very small upstate NY town clerk. Although they have been very nice, they are seem very clueless about the procedure, so I wanted to ask the forum if this is the correct way to go about it. They said that I should send the town clerk a letter specifying the changes I want to have on the documents. Then, the town clerk will fill out a form and send it to Albany, where they will make a decision whether or not to change it.


My questions are:

1. Is this the normal procedure for NYS?

2. Should my letter with the requested corrections also contain a notarized statement of why I am requesting these corrections? (for Albany)

3. Is there any reason that Albany would reject such a request?

4. Does anybody have an idea how long this process might take?


Grazie mille!

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Re: Amending birth, marriage in NYS

Postby kontessa » 20 Feb 2011, 20:18

rgaetano wrote:My questions are:

1. Is this the normal procedure for NYS?

2. Should my letter with the requested corrections also contain a notarized statement of why I am requesting these corrections? (for Albany)

3. Is there any reason that Albany would reject such a request?

4. Does anybody have an idea how long this process might take?


Grazie mille!


I also dealt with a small town clerk in NYS to correct a few records, so my experience is just one example. Others may have different experiences.

1) Your clerk should already have the correction forms on hand which you would normally fill out. Perhaps they are willing to do this for you based on the information that you send them because they are unfamiliar with the process. It doesn't matter though, as long as they fill in the form correctly. (My clerk submitted forms in to the state that I had already filled out.) The clerk should be in direct contact with Linda Ortiz in the correction unit of Vital Records, to clarify the process should they have any problems/questions. She is well-informed and one of the few people in the corrections unit who know exactly what can and cannot be amended, and who is actually allowed to make the amendments.

2) I would definitely include a letter explaining why you are requesting the amendments, but I don't think that it needs to be notarized. You should also be required to submit specific documentation supporting your requested change. Your town clerk should instruct you as to what documents you need to supply. The required documents are usually listed on the back of the correction form. (Again, Ms Ortiz is a great reference.)

3) Yes, NYS can and does reject some requests for amendments. They have specific guidelines about who can change what. When I was going through the amendment process, a marriage record for my deceased GF was off limits except with a letter from the consulate stating that it must be amended. A few months ago I read somewhere that maybe the rules have changed. To be certain, Ms Ortiz is the one who can give you the best up-to-date information. Hopefully, since your amendment is only for one letter in a name, they will honor your request.

4) Time frame? Who knows. I filled out amendment requests and waited at least 6 - 8 weeks before requesting a new record. Maybe they can process them more quickly than this. Ms. Ortiz will also know the timeframe.

Word to the wise - always verify that the changes that you requested were actually made to every new record.

Also, if you encounter difficulties amending the marriage record, think about using an affidavit to explain the spelling errors. (Search for a 'dichiarazione sostitutiva di certificazione'.) Good luck.

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Re: Amending birth, marriage in NYS

Postby rgaetano » 21 Feb 2011, 14:25

thanks kontess! very helpful. I have since found the forms online (the clerk didn't have all the forms, or didn't know where they were at the time I spoke to her).

Will I run into any problems that (obviously) neither me nor my father are the signatories on either document?

I think I will fill out the forms myself to ensure they are correct, then send to the clerk, and have her send them Albany. But I will also contact Linda Ortiz ahead of this to make sure everything is understood.

Also, thanks for the tip about marriage records & affidavit!

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Re: Amending birth, marriage in NYS

Postby kontessa » 21 Feb 2011, 16:09

I cannot say for sure whether or not you will have any difficulties attempting to amend birth or marriage documents for deceased relatives. Of course amending your own records, or those of your children are easiest and contrary to what some have posted about amending a NYS death record, I found this very easy to do.

Regardless of what you are told, send in the paperwork anyway. Imo, they should be required to examine the request and evidence before making a decision. If they end up rejecting your request, get this in writing and proceed with affidavits to explain the errors. (The written refusal could be used as evidence to support your need for an affidavit.)

This is only my opinion, and may sound crazy, but if you arrive at the need for an affidavit, be certain that you use an official looking format. Some may disagree, but I think that using a format that is routinely used (and widely accepted) in Italy may increase your chances that it is accepted. Others have just used a simple affidavit and had no problem. However, I would go the extra mile to increase my chances of success, especially if one is dealing with the consulate in NYC. (Search comune.it and autocertificazione.) Good luck.

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Re: Amending birth, marriage in NYS

Postby rgaetano » 01 Mar 2011, 22:55

just an update... I wrote to Linda Ortiz in Albany, who does the ammendments/corrections. She is very helpful and responds fast via email. It looks like I can ammend my GGF death certificate, and his marriage certificate with out much difficulty (supply the forms, affidavits, and copies of documents supporting my requests).

However, changing my GF's birth certificate (which has his last name misspelled by one letter - a Z in place of an S) requires a court order. The court orders are so elusive, nobody seems to know how they work!

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Re: Amending birth, marriage in NYS

Postby kontessa » 02 Mar 2011, 08:54

Just a quick question about the birth record - your GF's surname has the 'z', but is his father's last name spelled this way on the record as well? If your GGF's name on the record IS correct, I would contact Ms. O in the corrections unit again, and bring this to her attention. If both are misspelled, than maybe that is why they aren't willing to change the record. Just a thought.

I do think that if you want to file the petition yourself, there is a wealth of information online. It may be very similar to one for obtaining records from NYS, in that both are filed against the NYS Vital Records Unit (your's would be the corrections section of this unit). There must be a specific article (like 78) that deals with correction of records, and you might find it by searching legal sites from NYS government or maybe someone here knows the right site to go to. You could also search NYS bar websites online for information. You can save yourself a bunch of money doing it yourself, if you have the time to do the research. Good luck.

I do recall being in a battle against NYS at the same time as johnny-on-the-spot a few years ago - maybe he has some ideas or better insight. :)

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Re: Amending birth, marriage in NYS

Postby rgaetano » 03 Mar 2011, 01:59

hi kontessa,
My GF has all other documents spelled correctly, with the "S", only his birth is misspelled with a "Z". I actually already have a certified copy of this record (the county clerk just gave it to me, whereas NYS would have wanted a court order). But now that I need to correct it, I need a court order to correct and to get a certified copy of the corrected version.

i'm confused - i thought you file court orders against the county court, but you are saying they are against NYS?

also, what's a good estimate for how long this process takes? do you have to be present in court after you file the motion?

thanks

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Re: Amending birth, marriage in NYS

Postby kontessa » 03 Mar 2011, 06:18

Just to clarify...Not your GF's name on his birth record, but your GGF's name? On your GF's birth record, how is his father's surname spelled? Is his father's surname (your GGF) spelled correctly, or are they both wrong? If GGF's name is correct, why not make one more attempt to convince Ms. O to change GF's record? If your GGF's surname is correct on your GF's birth record, I would point this out to Ms. O by attaching a copy of the birth record with GGF's correct surname highlighted. I would also include a copy of GGF's birth record as a second attachment. She can always say no a second time, and you're left obtaining a court order, but imo, she needs to be looking at the actual record when she makes that determination.

I think that you would file a petition against the NYS Dept of Health Vital Records Section, Corrections Unit or the NYS DOH Corrections Unit (not sure the distinction matters). I am not certain if you can file your petition in any county Supreme Court, or only in Albany county. Others have said this isn't possible, but I know of someone who filed in Westchester County. Could be because there was a regional office of the Attorney General of NYS in White Plains? I'm not sure.

As for being present in court, I am clueless about this stuff so I used an attorney! She took care of everything for me. You may or may not be required to be present, especially if you live out of state. (I read somewhere that someone provided testimony to a judge over the phone??) Perhaps others with more knowledge will chime in here. Sorry.

As for time, from filing a petition to having the judge sign the order took 3 months in my case, filed in Albany County.

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Re: Amending birth, marriage in NYS

Postby rgaetano » 03 Mar 2011, 16:50

sorry for not being more clear. On my GF's birth certificate, both last names (GF and GGF) are misspelled with the Z, unfortunately. I see your point though, if my GGF didn't have the misspelling on my GF birth certificate, it should be more convincing to fix without the court order.

Luckily, I already have a certified copy with the spelling errors, so if the court order takes a long time, I still have something to bring to my appointment (and hope they let the minor error slide).

I guess I will consult a family attorney on this, as I don't have too much time to waste (my appointment is in less than 3 months). Thanks for all the info kontessa!

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Re: Amending birth, marriage in NYS

Postby rgaetano » 03 Mar 2011, 16:54

sorry for not being more clear. On my GF's birth certificate, both last names (GF and GGF) are misspelled with the Z, unfortunately. I see your point though, if my GGF didn't have the misspelling on my GF birth certificate, it should be more convincing to fix without the court order.

Luckily, I already have a certified copy with the spelling errors, so if the court order takes a long time, I still have something to bring to my appointment (and hope they let the minor error slide).

I guess I will consult a family attorney on this, as I don't have too much time to waste (my appointment is in less than 3 months). Thanks for all the info kontessa!

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Re: Amending birth, marriage in NYS

Postby kontessa » 03 Mar 2011, 21:00

Since you won't have time to make the corrections before your appointment, you could always go to your appointment with an affidavit that explains the error...dichiarazione sostitutiva di certificazione. There is a website to create a variety of official 'autocertifications', you can just plug in your information and it will spit one out, very professional looking with the proper verbiage. I will have to verify the website before posting, as I can't recall exactly what I used. Or, you could create your own and ask the wonderful people on this forum to assist you in having it translated. IMO, your affidavit should be presented in Italian, and should look just like one that is routinely accepted in Italy. Others have had affidavits written in English accepted, but we're talking NYC here. Disclaimer...this is just my opinion. :D

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Re: Amending birth, marriage in NYS

Postby JavaisLife » 03 Mar 2011, 21:20

What years are these certificates from? It's possible you can get a letter from the director of the department and have that translated as well.

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Re: Amending birth, marriage in NYS

Postby rgaetano » 04 Mar 2011, 13:35

Kontessa, great idea. I will look around for a good one to use. If you remember a good one that you used, please let me know.


JavaisLife, the birth certificate I am trying to amend is from 1910. I'm not sure exactly what you mean? The marriage certificate of my GGF seems easy enough to amend, just an affidavit, a form, and a copy of my GGF Italian birth certificate with a certified translation.

thanks

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Re: Amending birth, marriage in NYS

Postby kontessa » 04 Mar 2011, 13:54

Here's a link to a thread with the affidavit information: http://italiancitizenship.freeforums.or ... 86-30.html

Just want to clarify another issue...you said that you WERE allowed to amend GGF's marriage record, NYS, right? This is great news, as I thought that they were next to impossible to amend without a letter from the consulate or a court order. (I think that I missed that little nuggest because I was paying more attention to the birth record of GF and the death record of GGF! :? )

If you don't mind sharing, this is fairly up-to-date information on amending NYS records, and there are probably many people who frequent this forum that could benefit from your experience.

BTW, Javaislife is the Queen when it comes to Municipal Archives. :D

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Re: Amending birth, marriage in NYS

Postby JavaisLife » 04 Mar 2011, 16:28

Rgaetano

When I went to the NYC Consulate the first time, I had an affidavit from my mother translated into Italian and apostilled - it wasn't accepted. Perhaps, it will be different for you, I am not sure.

I was asking the dates of your certificates, for I would know if the documents are from the Municipal Archives or Vital Records.

Since they are from Municipal Archives you can make an appointment w/ the Director of the Municipal Archives (Kenn Cobb). Have him write a notarized letter, which you will translate into Italian and apostilled. This will be accepted.

You can use your affidavit along w/ his official affidavit.

Best of luck!
Marie

@kontessa - Thanks, it's only because I haunt their offices until I get what I need ;)


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