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ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

Can I change my son's last name to my own?

Asked by ItalianPrincess1217 (10086 points ) May 10th, 2012 from iPhone

The father of my son left us. He has no part of the baby’s life. I filed for sole custody and we have a custody hearing next month. If I’m awarded full custody and he continues not to pay any child support, do I need his permission to change my son’s last name to my own? This is in NY state and he is listed as the father on the birth certificate.

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12 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Can you ask a judge or an attorney at the custody hearing?

I am very sorry that things turned out this way; I hope you have some family who can help.

Tell us about the baby, or better yet, send a picture or two.

JLeslie's avatar

I agree with @gailcalled ask a lawyer either before or at the hearing. When a couple gets divorced the woman can change her name back to maiden included in all the paperwork, maybe the same can be done for the baby. Probably best if you can find out beforehand. I wonder if you call the court if you can get some information if you don’t have a lawyer. They might have a form.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

If you have full custody, you can do whatever you want – the child is yours, in the eyes of the law.

SpatzieLover's avatar

You will need to file a petition with the court. Since you’re already filing for sole custody, I would do as @gailcalled suggested and let the judge know at the custody hearing. Most likely this can be handled at the same proceeding.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I don’t think that is true. Having sole custody isn’t the same as terminating parental rights. From what I gathered through my son’s divorce, sole custody is the same as being the custodial parent. The other parent still retains their parental rights.

I think you would still have to have the father’s permission to change the child’s name. I am not a lawyer, though. Your lawyer will be able to tell you.

linguaphile's avatar

Include it in the court papers—that will save a lot of money and time. I agree with @Skaggfacemutt, ask your lawyer.

When my son was 1 year old, I did just that for the same reason—I changed his last name to his grandfather’s last name. My advantage, though, was that the biological father refused to be present to sign the birth certificate papers, so I didn’t have the legal hassle of dealing with him.

Seaofclouds's avatar

When I wanted to change my son’s last name to my last name, I had to petition for a legal name change with the court. Even though I had sole physical and legal custody, I still had to notify his biological father so that he could object if he wanted he. He didn’t and the name change was granted. This was in Delaware several years ago. It was the same name change paper work that anyone would do in order to have a legal name change.

bkcunningham's avatar

@ItalianPrincess1217, I am so very, very happy to see that you are moving in the right direction by filing legal documents regarding your baby boy. Things will get better for you. Please continue to stand up for yourself and your son and set the right example for him. Don’t do things out of anger or revenge and things will always work out for the good for you. Ask someone with the courts what you need to do to file the petition to change your son’s last name and to get child support. (((HUGS)))

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@bkcunningham Just a note – if you want to cut the father out of the picture, you have to petition to terminate his parental rights. The only way you can possibly win is if the father agrees – it is almost impossible to terminate parental rights if the father fights it. There are even murderers in prison whose spouses have been unsuccessful at terminating their parental rights.

In terminating parental rights, that parent is no longer responsible financially for that child. Even if he owes back support and back medical/child care bills, they are no longer his responsibility. For a parent who wants nothing to do with the child, this is a big incentive to go along with it.

In other words, you can’t cut the father out of the child’s life AND still expect him to financially support the child. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

JLeslie's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt In my state, TN, and in MI unwed fathers have almost no rights unless they go to court and get them. They do not have specific custodial rights, or even rights to visitation. They will be sought and required to pay child support though. If the mother wants to give the baby up for adoption the father does need to sign off, there the father is protected. I am sure it must vary by state.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@JLeslie That sounds so unfair. In my state, if you are required to pay child support, you get parental rights, even if you aren’t paying but just racking up a big bill through Dept. of Recovery Services. I fail to see how a state can legally hold a man financially responsible for a child he has no rights to.

JLeslie's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt I think they have some rights so to speak, but if they want to get a real schedule of being able to spend time with the child that will be enforced, they have to go to court. It’s not like they pay $100 a week and get to see the kid 2 days a week, nothing automatic like that. The state cares about the child support so the state does not have to pay. In my state when a girl is pregnant she is asked to name who is the father, if there is a paternity test the state will pay for the test if the man winds up not being the father, but of he is, he is required to pay.

A woman I worked with, her son got a girl pregnant amd he lived with her and her mom for a while, but when he left, he had trouble seeing the child (plus the girl was pregnant again!) and he was frustrated with the laws). A friend of mine is a lawyer and donates time to help dads in this situation. They have put together a packet for the fathers to fill out to help them with the lgeal forms and process.

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