Congratulations, and thank you for using Google Answers to find out
what you need to know.
First of all, the common disclaimer: I am not an attorney, although I
have studied law and am familiar with the legal process. And even if I
were an attorney, I could not give you legal advice here. I can only
give you information under the terms of service for Google Answers;
for legal advice, you would need to contact an attorney.
Although you may not realize it, you have actually asked two question
here that have separate answers:
1. Can I get the father listed as the father on the birth certificate?
2. Can I give the baby the father's last name?
The answers to those questions are "not yet" and "yes."
First of all, I'll discuss the issue of having the father listed as
the father on the birth certificate.
Under California law, since you aren't married, you can have the
father listed on the birth certificate in one of three ways:
1) The mother and father can sign a declaration of paternity (a legal
form available through certain state offices or the hospital) while at
2) The mother and father can sign a declaration of paternity at a
later date and have the birth certificate amended to include the
3) If one of the parents won't agree to sign a declaration of
paternity, either parent can initiate court action to have the father
listed, in which case a paternity test or other evidence might be
Since your baby's father won't be available, obviously the first
choice isn't an option. If he's willing to sign the declaration, he
can do it upon his return from Iraq or grant a limited power of
attorney before then to have it signed on his behalf. If he's not
willing, then you would need to initiate a court action to have him
named as the father.
You can see a sample declaration of paternity here:
Declaration of Paternity -- CS 909
You can find a summary of the California law here:
California Department of Child Support Services
A similar summary also appears on these pages:
Superior Court of California, County of Contra Costa
County of Orange Health Care Agency -- Birth & Death Certificates
Obviously, signing the declaration would be the simpler approach to
take. It is very simple and doesn't require an attorney (although the
signing must be officially witnessed). This declaration not only would
put the father on the birth certificate, it would also be conclusive
evidence of fatherhood in the event of any dispute involving child
custody or support.
The second matter you want to know about is the name of the baby.
The basic answer is that you can name the child whatever you want.
Giving the child the father's last name is a matter of custom, not
law. You can legally give the child your name, the father's name, a
hyphenated name or even my name if you wish (although Mvguy-ga would
be a strange name for a kid). The baby's name is an entirely parental
prerogative. Since you're the only parent who will be listed on the
birth certificate, the decision is entirely yours.
You can see some more information about that here:
Nolo: Parenting Issues for Unmarried Couples FAQ
Although that article doesn't specifically mention California law, a
thorough search through the California statutes indicates that
California places no restrictions on what you can name a child:
You can find out more about this particular issue on a similar
question that was raised on Google Answers:
Paternity - law
CAUTION: In general, as Nolo indicates, you can name a child basically
anything you want. However, I would strongly suggest that if you are
going to give your child the father's last name that you seek his
blessing before you do so. You're not allowed to select a child's
name for fraudulent reasons, and you don't want to be put in the
position where the father is claiming the child isn't is and that
you're defaming him by claiming he's the father or anything like that.
If you can't get the father's blessing, I would suggest you consult
with an attorney -- not because you'd be breaking the law by giving
the child his name, but because you'd be raising issues of paternity
that have legal repercussions.
And unless you and the father see eye to eye on issues such as custody
and child support (and maybe even if you do), you should contact an
attorney in any case. The sooner you handle the legal aspects of
parenthood, the better off both you and your baby will be.
I hope you find this information useful as you prepare to give birth.
I wish the very best for you and the new life you're bringing into the