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RandomMrdan's avatar

Question with changing the name of a child?

Asked by RandomMrdan (7436points) June 9th, 2009

If you’ve been apart of the last question asked by a friend of mine, you’ll know there is a possibility that I could be the father of a 9 month year old boy.

His name currently is the last name of the supposed father. If by chance, I am the father, how would I go about changing his last name to mine?

Is there anything they (the mother and boyfriend) would be able to do to prevent me from changing his last name to mine?

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26 Answers

MrGV's avatar

Go to human resources and ask them about it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

If you’re not the legal guardian/parent, then you can’t change his name legally – the mother would have to do this if she’s the primary legal caretaker

RandomMrdan's avatar

What if we had a joint custody, could I then change it?

eadinad's avatar

I’m pretty sure if there’s joint custody then both parents must agree to any legal or medical change, unless one option is clearly in the best interest of the child. You might find a sympathetic judge, but you might not.

susanc's avatar

A grumpy question: are you planning to take all the other normal responsibilities as well?

RandomMrdan's avatar

yeah, I would be taking normal responsibilities.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

you must have joint legal custody (not just physical) and as @eadinad mentioned, you both must agree to the change.

Jack79's avatar

As far as I know (in Europe and most countries) the name is picked by both parents. Obviously, the other guy is supposed to be the father, so officially speaking, you are a nobody and have no say in the whole subject. So the first step is to legally establish that you are the biological father (ie prove it through a DNA test). This is in itself not as easy as it sounds, because it requires the mother’s permission, both in order for the child to be tested and for her to give her own DNA sample for the test itself. The only way to do it is through a court order. So talk to a lawyer.

Once you have established that, you may be able to put pressure on the mother, but still it does not automatically grant you custody, nor does the child’s name change. You will have to start a new court process in which to ask for joint custody, and even when you get that, you’d have to have a third trial in order to force the mother to change your kid’s name. The father’s name is not automatically given to his children in most Western countries, even when they are undoubtedly his own, but is a matter of agreement between the parents, with the mothers almost always opting for their kids to take the dad’s name. So even though this is a general social rule, it is not something you can force a mother to do if she doesn’t want to (especially since she’ll be forced to change an already given name, rather than keep your name and not change it to the other guy’s).

So now there are two things to consider: 1) is this really worth it for you? 2) is this the best thing for your child?
What do you really want? You cannot be his dad (in the everyday sense of the word), so that’s out of the window, and all you can do is harm, at a great cost to yourself too. Isn’t there a way to persuade your ex to let you see him every now and then, even if he doesn’t get your name? If you want to be part of this boy’s life, there are many discreet ways you can do this. I can feel your pain, but unfortunately you have to think of the future, not the past, and keep in mind why you are doing all this.

btw I have a cousin who got divorced. His wife remarried and the new guy adopted the children (all 3 of which knew he was not their dad) and gave them his name. My nephew is now a world-class football player who uses his adopted father’s name, and people do not even know who his real father is. I checked it on wikipedia and the 2nd guy is listed as the father. There was not a single thing my cousin could do.

casheroo's avatar

First, you’d need to change the name on the birth certificate.

But, technically, the mother could take the child to the Social Security Administration, and change the last name herself. I don’t think you need any proof of the name change. When I changed my name with them, they don’t ask for a reason (but, at the DMV, I had to show my marriage license, because you can’t just pick any name like at the SSA)
You need to first fight the birth certificate battle, so you even have rights.

RandomMrdan's avatar

@Jack79 to consider the two points you bring up…

1) If I’m going to play a Father image role in my son’s life, I want him to have my last name, so yes, it is worth it to me. And I would say, it’s very important to me too.

2) If I’m the biological father, I think it would only make sense. At some point he’ll wonder why he doesn’t share the last name of his biological father. The boyfriend she is currently with might now be his father figure, but may not always be. Where as I’ll always be the father of this child. That will never change.

I plan to see him often, and have him stay with me. I will share all responsibilities with the mother. As the father I have a right to be apart of his life.

Also as far as legal expenses go, since I’m in the National Guard, we have a JAG office, and I think they can do a lot of the paper work for me, and take care of some of the expenses as it’s a free service for me to see them.

And just so I understand you correctly. Even if she were not agreed with the name change, I could eventually get it to the point where she would be forced to, legally?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I think if anything your child will wonder more about why bio mom and bio dad aren’t together, rather than whose last name he has…my first son has his bio dad’s last name and I regret it, sometimes, because he does not spend much time with him (though he said all the things you say now)...and I realize that I’d much rather him my last name because I gave birth to him and it should follow

RedPowerLady's avatar

If you are proven to be the father you could arrange a name change with the family court judge. I assume you will be going there anyhow for a custody arrangement. You will find that most of these type of issues have to be dealt with in family court. Assuming the mother won’t agree to change it herself. Of course if the judge decides a name change is not necessary then that is bad news but that is your only? legal course of action in this matter aside from mom agreeing to change it.

Jack79's avatar

@RandomMrdan I am not sure, because it depends on a lot of factors, including what judges you’re up against. What the law says and what happens in reality are often two different things (as I have recently found out the hard way). But yes, eventually you should be able to at least get custody and/or visitation rights.

I am NOT so sure you could force her to change the name now that she’s already given it, just as it would be extremely hard for her (if not impossible) to change it if your kid already had yours. But there’s probably some legal loophole (eg that she lied on the birth certificate and so on). What I cannot stress enough is how hard all this is. Do not think that you’ll just get a lawyer to handle it and then show up in court one day. I really wish it were that simple, and I hope that it will be that simple for you. It is a long, hard struggle, which will cost you immense amounts of energy, money, time, and negatively affect your physical health as well as your psychology. I wish you the best of luck my friend, and may they let you become the father you wish to be.

Midnight_Blue's avatar

You might be in for a difficult time. I have had a little experience of exactly this situation, where the paternity was not disputed by either the mother or the father, but as the child was ex-nuptial and given the woman’s married name, the court required a paternity test before allowing the change even though the mother and the real father were by that time living together. This was a few years ago and DNA paternity tests were expensive and slow. The father had to adopt his own child to get the name changed without going through the DNA tests.

filmfann's avatar

To clarify: does the child currently have the mother’s last name, or the other possible father’s?

RandomMrdan's avatar

The child is currently using the possible father’s name.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

You would have to go to court, get a name change, get a new birth certificate issued. It could be done as part of the custody agreement.

filmfann's avatar

First, you will have to prove you are the father IN COURT. Then, the Judge will have to find you to be responsable enough to share custody. Then, you need to get the mother to agree to a name change.
Or, you could just not interfer with the childs life. Let the other guy fill the father role, and let the child have a chance at a normal life.

RandomMrdan's avatar

I lived my entire life between my parents who were separated. I turned out just fine, and I’ve lived a very normal life. Had good grades, played sports, go to college, joined the guard.

I’m not here on advice on whether I should , or shouldn’t be his father. I’ve already made that decision, if he’s my child, I will play the father role.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

So were you #2 or #4?

filmfann's avatar

@RandomMrdan Maybe you’re right. Maybe a child not living with both parents is normal now.
I am just asking that you think of the child, and not yourself.

RandomMrdan's avatar

I think I could only have a positive impact on this child’s life.

cak's avatar

@RandomMrdan I don’t have the answer – but I admire your resolve.

@filmfann – I don’t think anyone sets out to have this situation; or, to be a married couple the separates and shares custody. I know I didn’t. I was single, for several years, before I remarried. I wasn’t “looking” for a husband, either. In fact, I pretty much was set on being single – and not remarrying. My daughter is very loved, just as she was during the years were I was a single mom. She excelled in school and sports – still does. It’s not ideal, but it’s reality – in some situations.

RandomMrdan could be doing the opposite, but he’s stepping up for the test and has said he will be a part of this child’s life. I think that shows that he is looking out for the child.

RandomMrdan's avatar

I’m number 4.

Jack79's avatar

I missed that bit, what #4? Looking back at the thread offers no explanation.

I think the biggest obstacle in all of this is the mother. If she wants you to play an active role (something which would be a lot easier if she didn’t have this other boyfriend) then everything will be sorted out. But setting out to do something which is legally complicated to start with, and having someone hinter these actions, makes things very very hard. You’ll need a lot of strength for this.

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