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Q: Unmarried parents' child legal question on last name ( Answered,   3 Comments )
Subject: Unmarried parents' child legal question on last name
Category: Family and Home > Parenting
Asked by: 1jkdbjj-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 27 Jan 2006 01:57 PST
Expires: 26 Feb 2006 01:57 PST
Question ID: 438245
My ex-girlfriend broke up with me when I went to visit her in Costa
Rica, she is 5 months pregnant. She is A Costa Rican citizen and a
permanent resident here in
the U.S. From what I have read about pregnant women and
internationational travel 4 months and on is a risk.She lives in
Boston and I live in Chicago, the plan was origionally to have the
baby here in Chicago and the baby would take my last name.
Now she is going to have the baby in Boston and is insisting that the
baby have her last name. What can I do to make sure the baby has my
last name?
Subject: Re: Unmarried parents' child legal question on last name
Answered By: cynthia-ga on 27 Jan 2006 05:17 PST
Hello 1jkdbjj,

Congratulations on your impending fatherhood. That being said, I
commend you on your desire to step-up-to-the-plate and claim your
child, and give your child your surname. I wish I had good news for
you, but I don't. Unless your ex-girlfriend agrees to give the baby
your last name, you'll have to go to court. Even then, without good
cause, it won't happen. Judges don't change last names of children to
the non-custodial Father's last name just because he wants it that

To get to the point, if this is REALLY IMPORTANT TO YOU --as hard as
it may seem, the easiest (and maybe ONLY) way to give your child your
last name is to MAKE UP and get back together with her. Marry her. A
divorce and custody battle would be way easier than what you are
trying to do.

Consider this, even if you are together and MARRIED, if you _both_
can't agree (!) on the last name, you'd have to go to court and let a
judge decide the child's last name!

Assuming you have unlimited funds, even money won't help you here.
From what I've read, Massachusetts is old-school and favors the
Mother. If you want this, I would beg, grovel, lie (and I seldom
suggest that), --do WHATEVER it takes to get her to take you back. You
can always leave later, AFTER the child has your name.

You're asking the Mother to give the child your last name, but she
doesn't even HAVE TO allow you to be the legal Father on the birth
certificate. She can simply say you are not the Father. Then, your
needle in a haystack chance just turned into never, not in this

Here's some reference material for you. Read this answer and then read
the linked material:

The link below should be read in entirety, but I pulled out relevant
portions of the text for you.

[Massachusetts Department of Revenue - Child Support Enforcement Division]
PHONE: 1 (800) 332-2733

..."A child born to unmarried parents does not automatically have a
legal father..."

[ you must get your name on the birth certificate to avoid court
battle number one, the easiest way to do this is to be present at the
birth and ask to sign a Paternity Acknowledgment Form ]

..."How do I establish paternity for my child? Parents who are not
married to each other can establish paternity - legal fatherhood - for
their child only if both parents sign a paternity acknowledgment form
or if either of them asks a court to establish paternity.

Signing a Paternity Acknowledgment Form: The Easy Way to Establish
Paternity For Your Child.
Parents can establish paternity for their child by signing a form called the
acknowledging paternity.) Once both parents have signed this form and
their signatures have been notarized, the man becomes the legal father
of the child and his name goes on the child's birth certificate. No
one has to go to court.

[ with your name on the birth certificate as the FATHER of the child,
battle number one is over. ]

Parents can acknowledge paternity this way in three places:

? The hospital
Parents can complete the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage
form shortly after the birth of their child, while the
mother and child are still in the hospital. The birth registrar
at the hospital can help with this. There is no fee when the 
parents sign the acknowledgment in the hospital.

? City or Town Clerk's Office
If parents do not establish paternity before they leave the
hospital, they can still acknowledge paternity for their child
by completing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage form
and filing it at the city or town clerks office in the community
where the child was born. Both parents' signatures must
be notarized, which the city or town clerk can do. The clerk
may charge a fee for filing.

? Registry of Vital Records and Statistics
If it is not convenient to complete a Voluntary Acknowledgment
of Parentage form in the community where the child
was born, the parents may complete the form at the Registry
of Vital Records and Statistics (RVRS), or mail the form with
a check for $25 to RVRS.

[ keep in mind, BOTH of you must sign this, all she has to do is *say*
you are not the Father, and you are looking at a court ordered


..."Will the child's birth certificate include the father's name?
The birth certificate will include the father's name if --
? the parents acknowledge paternity by signing a Voluntary
Acknowledgment of Paternity form in the hospital or later at a city or
town clerks office or at the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics,

? a judge establishes paternity in court and orders that the
father's name be included on the birth certificate.

Otherwise, the space for the father's name will be left blank on the child's
birth certificate..."

..."Will the child have the father's last name?
Generally, the mother can decide what the child's name will be. Parents
can choose their child's first and last name together when they fill out the
birth certificate and acknowledge paternity for their child in the hospital.
They will have to go to court if they later decide to change their child's name..."

In Massachusetts ..."By law, when parents are not married, the mother
has custody of their child unless a court orders otherwise. A father
who has legally established paternity can ask a court to make a
decision about custody and visitation..."

[ Note, changing the child's last name to the non-custodial Father's
is the last thing a judge will consider. In Massachusetts, you must
have physical custody of the child to file for a name change ]

Massachusetts Specific:
..."The information provided in this booklet does not constitute legal advice
and is based on the laws of Massachusetts as of the publication date.
It is always advisable to seek legal advice from an attorney..."

In particular, this booklet focuses on answering the following questions:
? Deciding a child?s name
? Where a child?s name is recorded; How a child?s name is recorded
? Correcting birth records to reflect the child?s biological father
? Changing your name
? Changing your children?s names
? If the other parent objects to changing the child?s names
? Some other Name-Related Issues

..."Deciding a child?s name:
Parents [ note they mean married here ] can name their child any name that they 
choose. The city or town clerk where the child was born records the child?s name 
as instructed by the parents. The parents may give the child any first name and 
any last name that they wish. The child?s last name may be the father?s last name, 
the mother?s last name, a hyphenated version of both names, or any other
name. However, if married parents disagree upon what name to use, they
may have to go to court to resolve the dispute, and the child may end up
with one parent?s surname or a hyphenated version..."

..."How a child?s name is recorded:
The mother?s name is always recorded on the birth certificate. Whether the
father?s name is also recorded depends on the situation:
If the mother is UNMARRIED, the father?s name is not recorded on
the birth certificate UNLESS BOTH the mother and father request by
affidavit that his name be recorded as the father of the child..."

..."Paternity can be established when the biological father acknowledges
paternity, i.e. admitting that they are the biological father
of the child..."

..."Changing your children?s names:
You must have custody of your children if you want to file a name change
on their behalf..."

..."If the other parent objects to changing the children?s names:
The court will decide based on what it believes to be in the children?s 
best interest.....Some courts look at the parent?s relationship with the 
children, whether the parent pays child support on a regular basis, and 
the harm caused to their relationship if the name is changed. BE PREPARED 
to provide the court with valid reasons why it would be better for the
children?s name to change. The court will not grant the name change
simply because the parents do not get along or because one parent has
remarried or changed their name..."



Chapter 46: Section 3D. Acknowledgments and adjudications of
paternity; records available to IV-D agency

If I can clarify anything for you, please give me a chance to assist
you further before rating my answer, and please don't shoot the
messenger with a poor rating simply because the answer is not in your
favor, I did after all, answer your question where many others would
have skipped it after finding the facts.

So sorry it's not good news... The world needs more guys like you. I
wish you the best of luck.


Search terms used at Google:
Massachusetts father "last name" OR surname child
Subject: Re: Unmarried parents' child legal question on last name
From: sandiego7-ga on 28 Jan 2006 07:10 PST
Here is a resource of legal articles that may be of assistance:
Subject: Re: Unmarried parents' child legal question on last name
From: webravi-ga on 29 Jan 2006 10:41 PST
Wow.  While the advice is accurate, the morality is terrible.  If the
only reason that you will get back together with her is to have the
child have your last name, then please don't bother.

Just understand, that being a father is more than bequething the last
name.  Why don't you go to Boston instead of her coming to Chicago? 
C'mon, its reprehensible.  If you really want it, you should earn it. 
If the relationship is good, then both of you can go to the court and
get the child's name changed.  Its not that difficult with both
people's consent.  Ask yourself what the advantage would be to the
child to have your last name?  Please note, that the kid having your
last name does not confer many rights to you.  Especially if you're
not in the same

And to advocate lying?!  The psychological problems would be worse. 
While accurate, definitely amoral advice.  Its tough enough for a kid
not to have both parents.  Terrible.
Subject: Re: Unmarried parents' child legal question on last name
From: gaynor1-ga on 30 Mar 2006 02:15 PST
I agree wholeheartedly with the last comment. Never mind the heartache
you are storing up for yourself. What about the atmosphere you would
be providing for the child. What are you going to say to the child
when they ask "is it because of me you broke up" as this does not seem
to be a good foundation to start a marriage on. Warring from the word
go over ego problems directly associated with the child isn't going to
provide an atmosphere conducive to the calm and security that a child
needs. What kind of start is that. Be content for the moment that your
girlfriend is still talking to you.  She holds all the cards
(unpalatable as this may be)and your first concern should be for the
child and its wellbeing which would not be well served by an attitude
of manipulation and deceit and the distraction and expense of
litigation.  The funds you spend on the lawyers could be better spent
on visiting the child and helping to support it.  You will have
precious little money or goodwill left after they have finished with
you in my exprience.

In short grow-up you are the parent not the child and its needs should
come first for both of you.

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