49 answers

Should I Change My Kids Names?

I am a single mother of twin boys. Their father was not in their lives for the first half year and even refused to except the fact that they were his. Now he has realized his mistakes and has really come through and has shown definite interest in being a father. He has even moved in to help share the responsibility. I gave the boys my last name at birth but for several months their father has been pressuring me to change their last names to his. I am not sure Im comfortable with this! I really don't know what to do. I can see his point of veiw but I dont want to change their names for the same reason that he does...

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Hello everyone! Thank you all very much for all of your responses and support. I am new to this and it is really a comfort to remember that their are other people out there who are in the same situation and can offer advice. I think that you are right and I need to WAIT. There is alot that the two of us need to work out and I do not think that he is thinking of anyone but himself... We need to have clear heads and make a decision that will be best for our children. Thanks again!

Featured Answers

I totally understand this one, My seven year old son's dad has nothing to do with him so he has my last name and the family wants to have me change it but they don't have anything to do with him either. There is a postive part if you do change the names then he would definatly have to pay child support. Do what you feel is right for the boys you are the only one that knows the dad and how he is just be careful and if you do change them and it doesn't work out with him and the boys then take his rights and change them back

I have a similar situation where my daughter has my maiden name. I don't think you should change their names unless the two of you get married. You have proven that you are a constant in their lives and he has not. What would you do if you changed their names and then he decided to diappear again? It is also pretty expensive to do this.

I agree with everyone else, don't change their names unless you get married...and even then you will have to decide if the three of you will take his last name. Also, are you two back together? I understand needing/wanting help, but I don't know how wise it is to have him living with you if you do not plan on working out the relationship. Just my two cents. Good luck with everything.

More Answers

No don't change the names!

K.

dont do anything U are uncomfortable with....and if he tries to pressure U....thats a good indicator that he doesnt respect your feelings and thoughts....

My best friend had 2 kids with the same man. The 2nd one was born after they were no longer together. She gave the 2nd child her last name, but the first had his. He took her to court to get the 2nd child's name changed and she countered to change the 1st child. In the end, she won, and now both her kids have her last name, and yes, she does get child support. The judge agreed to that, because she had custody of the kids. There is nothing linking a last name to child support. Tons of people get pregnant out of wedlock and give the child the mothers name. The only thing is the father might have to get a paternity test for child support, but he would have to even if their names were his, because you were not married. I think you should wait. If he marries you, then change all of your names, but I wouldn't unless you got married. They have your name and live with you. It's not confusing when they are living with you and have the same last name as you. If they had his last name and he was no longer around, then it's more confusing for them to have a different last name than you do. I think unless you are married to him, they need to keep your name.

I wouldn't do it unless you're married.

If the father wants a lifelong commitment that a name represents, then he should make a lifelong commit to you and the children by marrying you. I'm not being judgmental of you---please don't think that.

I would wait until the two of you get married to change their names. I gave my daughter her fathers last name at birth, believing that we would get married, then he left, and we have not seen him for the last 4 years. It has caused a multitude of problems for the both of us. I believe that you are the stability in their lives and when your last name changes, then theirs can too. You have been there ALL Along, he has not. If it is that big of a deal to him, then he will do the right thing.
S.

S.

If he plans to marry you then of course you'd change their names. Otherwise, perhaps you can wait just a little longer until you feel 100% sure he's not going to skip out again.

you cant get child support if the babies have your last name. you should change it. he is their father and if he is in their life the boys might grow up wondering why their names are different. it would be hard to tell the boys that their father wanted nothing to do with them when they were born. it might cause some annimosity (sp??)

I agree with the others. Don't change their names unless you get married. And if you still don't feel comfortable with it, then don't! It's your decision. He gave up his right to have a say in that, even if he does come back and be an angel. That ship has sailed!

Dear A.,

I'm nearly 40 years old, and one thing that took me a long time to learn was that if I'm not COMPLETELY comfortable with an issue, I should wait as long as necessary to make a decision. If you're not absolutely and completely comfortable with changing your son's names, then there's a reason. You may not be totally conscious of a specific reason, but something is still nagging at you. Wait, wait, wait. Why should you be in a hurry? Beware of rushing yourself or talking yourself into a change for the sake of anyone else. I am a Christian, and I have found that if I wait on God to guide me, His timing and His outcome are perfect. It's the waiting and the patience that are hard for us humans. No matter what your spiritual ties may be, this fellow Mommy's advice is to wait and see what happens next in life. Good luck!
C. Kitzmiller

If you marry, I would certainly change the names, but if not, then I would be willing to hypen the names. I think you will know in your heart if he is truly commited to the boys.
Also, think about the boys here. A father-son connection is very important. It may be good for the boys that they can share his last name, whether you marry or not. I know for me I was very happy to carry my father's last name even though he was not there. Whatever your decision, make the best decision for the boys, not for you or their father.

Don't do anything that makes you uncomfortable. You've done ok so far by yourself. But if you really need the child support, change their names and force him to get the paternity test done. He'll really own up then. The fact that he didn't want the boys is hurtful and you must make sure he's ready for all of the family stuff first.

Would you both consider hyphenating the two names?

You said something... he has realized his mistakes and has really come through and has shown definite interest in being a father. As long as he has shown you this change and it has been some time to make sure that he has changed. You children should have their father's name.

Not knowing your whole story it is hard to advise. But personally I would not change the names of your boys unless you are marrying the Father. This way if he leaves again your kids still have your name. I was a single parent for 6 years and my son kept my name the whole time - the Father never came back but if he had tried I doubt I would have changed my son's name just for him. If you are married to the Father then I can see his point but I would not do it otherwise.

Hi A.,

My response is a bit late, I didn't see your post until today.
I went through the same thing with my first child. her father (now my husband) was drinking a lot and denied she was his, we were separated when she was born and I had to move in with my parents for support. I was so angry with him!! Then he really came around, he changed completely, however I had already given my baby girl (madison) my last name. We are now married and have a second child he has his last name, I still have not changed her name to his and we are both fine with it. My concern is that if your kids father really changed, then why is he being so pushy for you to do something he has NOT EARNED?? I think you need to be firm about the choices you have made, they were made with good cause.
He needs to pay his dues first for you to even consider this.

Good Luck!!

If it was me, I wouldn't do it. After more time goes by, maybe another year or so, if he is still an active participant in their life, you could re-consider it again. But for right now, I wouldn't.

A.,

I don't know your situation too well, but my advice to you would be to wait until you see if their father will be STAYING in their lives before you make a change like that. If he can prove that he's in it for the long-haul, Maybe I would consider doing it down the road. But if I were you, I'd wait a few years to let him settle in to the new role before taking drastic measures.

Good luck!
K

Yep, don't change their names. Make him prove himself!!

If you have been to court and the state recognizes him as the father, then the kids should carry his last name.

My son's father darted on my son's first birthday. My biggest regret was giving him his fathers last name. I have had alot of issues with my son and I having different last names. I even had to take him out of a MDO because the church made it clear they did not like us listing two different names on the classroom list. He was made an outcast and came home asking why in his home mommies and daddies didin't live together like he was told at school. It becomes a hassel to keep clearing up that you and your sons have different last names to every program you list them in. And even in todays day and time, you will be looked at differently because of the two last names. I would wait till your son's father changes your last name too. It will be much easier in the end.

Your boys are still young and that father has a long way to go before proving his worthiness of them taking on his name. If it were me, I would tell the father that though you are not against the idea of changing their names, there is no reason to rush into the legal proceedings and costs to do so right now. Tell him that you will be happy to do so if he still wishes it further down the line and when it becomes more of a legal issue (like maybe when they start official school,in Texas official school doesn't start until 1st grade but some states it is kindergarten, and transcripts and official life-long documents become an issue). As long as you make it clear that you are not against the idea, just see no reason for the rush of it, hopefully he will stop pressuring you. After all, he wasn't there to make sure to have his last name put on the birth certificates so he should be willing to wait until you are ready for the change and then when you are ready, he should be the one to have to go through all of the paperwork and expense of changing their last names. Just my opinion, but hope it helps

T.

Hi A.,

I would not do it if I were you. Men like to be in control. This way you can stay on top of everything even if it comes to a custody battle!

Worst case you can always hyphenate their names.

Good Luck!

I think that you are the only one who can answer that question. I don't know how it works since he refused them as newborns. Was he listed as the father? If not, I would think that he should adopt them. Again, I have no clue how that works. I think you should do what you feel is right. Yes, you understand where he is coming from, but he needs to understand where you are coming from. If these boys are older, then they already know their last name to be what it is, and that is something to take into consideration. You definitely don't want to tell them the reasoning if they ask.

I say that you only change it if you are absolutely 100% positively sure that you want to do that.

I agree, don't change the names till you see the marriage certificate. If you suggest marriage, to show his committment, then you'll see how far he is willing to go to accept responsibility.

I agree with everyone else, don't change their names unless you get married...and even then you will have to decide if the three of you will take his last name. Also, are you two back together? I understand needing/wanting help, but I don't know how wise it is to have him living with you if you do not plan on working out the relationship. Just my two cents. Good luck with everything.

if you dont want too then dont,wait and see how long he stays around and see if it wrks, awhile first.

I know exactly what you are going thru only my daughters father still refuses to be a father! I did however give her his last name it was hard but I just felt in my heart that was the right thing to do!! My best advise is go with what you can live with.. My mom always told me to do the hardest thing there is to do it will always pay off!! Honestly though this is a question only you can answer!! Good luck I know this is a hard desision!!

I totally understand this one, My seven year old son's dad has nothing to do with him so he has my last name and the family wants to have me change it but they don't have anything to do with him either. There is a postive part if you do change the names then he would definatly have to pay child support. Do what you feel is right for the boys you are the only one that knows the dad and how he is just be careful and if you do change them and it doesn't work out with him and the boys then take his rights and change them back

Not right now. I recommend you do these things IN THIS ORDER:
1. Go to couple's counseling so you two don't repeat the same mistakes and really end up hurting those little one's lives. If he refuses, then you know his level of commitment and can make your decisions based on real knowledge and not second-guessing.
2. When the counselor (and you )believes you two to be ready, get married. This level of commitment is necessary for your children's and your well-being. If you uncover issues during counseling that become "deal-breakers" again, consider yourself lucky that you found out before marriage, and move on.
3. If after all this, you get married, after a period of time that you and your partner both decide on (before the wedding) change the children's names.
Nope, none of it is romantic, but raising children in a strong, healthy home rarely is. This is life, it ain't the movies.

A.,

I had been considered changing my sons last name to my maiden when his father deserted him at 3yo but when i looked into it there is a lot of filing court papers and legal fees...so be prepared if thats the route you want to take.

How about a compromise. Put your name first but hyphenate it and his name last. You were there from day one and its your choice alone. Don't give in to something you are not comfortable with.

From a man's perspective...

Knowing I do not know all the circumstances surrounding their birth and his denial. But based on the limited information I have, I would say that you should do what you feel is right and what you are comfortable with. Because when it comes down to it I bet that the trust issue is the reason you are hesitating and that you feel like you are being forced to do something. Its not really the issue of changing their actual names. There is a cost involved to do this and I believe if you do it all yourself its at least 300 to 500 per child. I would imagine if you and he looked deep into this situation in a non threatening and non confrontational way there is still deep seeded anger surrounding the denial of the kids and the fact that he was not there when they were first born to support you. That is alot to overcome for a person and the wounds are still fresh, both of you should not rush into anything because hopefully you both want what is best for the kids and not the pride and hurt that is in the way of resolving the conflict. Deal with the emotional issues, keep the kids in mind above the personal stuff, and seriously try and heal the relational wounds that exist between you to find the common ground.

Again this is just a guys perspective who never denied any of his kids but questioned my first until I saw him being born, I went through the entire pregnancy with my ex and bet on the fact that if the baby was not mine I would know at the end of the day, worst case scenario I was there for someone when they needed it. Best case I had a new son to be proud of, my dad was not emotionally there for me when I was a kid and not suprising is not here now for me. Sorry for the rambling but just do what your heart tells you but heal the wounds between you and the father for the kids sake.

I agree with the others. I'm sure it is what you think too...you probably just want reassurance that other mom's would think the same way.

I would wait till you get married and then you can change all 3 names at the same time! :) Your's and the boys!!

I'm glad that he is in the picture now...takes a real man to own up to his mistakes...there are not many of them out there.

Good luck A.!!

I have a similar situation where my daughter has my maiden name. I don't think you should change their names unless the two of you get married. You have proven that you are a constant in their lives and he has not. What would you do if you changed their names and then he decided to diappear again? It is also pretty expensive to do this.

I agree with everyone....but here is the kicker...
If he wants to do right by EVERYONE...tell him you will change the kid's last name when he changes YOURS.

I would not change the names of the children. HE wasn't in their lives at first and who is to say that it will not happen again.

I am glad that he realized that he made a mistake and came back but I still would not change their names, You did the right thing by giving them your names.

My youngest has my last name with his at the end (hyphen) which I wish I wouldn't have done especially since we were only married (together) for a VERY short time plus he wasn't in his life throughout the pregnancy at all it's like he vanished and he is just around part time when it's convient for him since my son was around 6 months old.

Good Luck.
M.

I personally would not change their last name to his unless you two got married.

That's my vote :)

A.,

I have to agree with Christie. A man is to love and honor his wife and kids. If he will not commit to marriage, then the kids shouldn't have his name. Their legal name is not his name because he has not legally married you. (Only Christie put it much better.)

Another question to consider....do you want to marry him? Is this the man you want to spend the rest of your life with? If not, then is he willing to pay child support? And not just say it but actually do it?

Just things to consider. Hope this helps.

A. S.

You have received many great responses. My situation is a bit different in that I left an abusive hubby with a 2 mo and 16 mo old. Father's rights were eventually terminted. Many thought I should change our names but I thought we all needed the same name and kept the one on the birth certificates. It has made things like getting passports and enrolling in school much easier. I agree with your hesitation that you have answered your own question. He really doesn't have any rights to the children unless the courts give it to him - the right to pay child support come to mind wherever he lives. That is where my money would go to make sure my kids are provided for in the future (although statistically most do not pay there support on a regular basis if at all).........you are very blessed to have twins and I wish you the best!

Leave their names as is. He is still their dad, a name should not make or break his relationship with them. If it does, then there is your answer!

I think it needs to be a decision you feel good about. Only you know the history involved. You might consider doing a hyphenated last name with both names if you aren't 100% sure about removing your name. I hope things work out for you and your family.

I read all of the responses and agree that you should wait before you change your sons' last name.

I'm also writing regarding the post that says that you can't get child support if the child doesn't have the father's name.

That's not entirely true. I thought the same thing. But my ex acted so stupid and non-caring during our mediation hearing that the hearing officer didn't ask me to change my son's last name to his. I had explained to her that my son's father (who was sitting right next to me during the child support hearing) abandoned us and I wanted my child's name to be a connection to the family that he would be around (i.e. mine). She saw how ignorant my ex was acting and didn't make me change my son's name. My ex didn't protest, so my son has my last name.

I think some judges may "require" this, but I think it depends on who's overseeing your child support hearing. My cousin was told that her son had to have the father's last name during child support proceedings a few years ago.

I don't know if this is a TX law or just something that some judges/hearing officers "require".

Hi A.,

That's a tough one. As you know. My thought is to give it enough time that you feel reasonably certain that he'll be around for a while. But I also wouldn't label it with a specific time frame... You might not ever feel okay about it, but I think when (or if) you do, you'll know. Also, I'm not sure I understand the difference in your reasons and his reasons...

Looming in the back of my mind is the question regarding you and him. Where do you think that is going? Where do you want it to go, or hope it will go? If anywhere more than it is now? All that, of course, could also affect the issue of your boys' names.

I also agree that you should probably keep in mind such issues should a custody battle come out of this...

Best of luck. It sounds like you are wise to be listening to that inner instinct. I'm sure it will continue to guide you. :-)

Best,
L.

A., I went through the same thing. However, as I'm an attorney & its so easy for me to do, I filed the paperwork myself. I wish I hadn't. My son's dad has had little to do w/him in the last couple of years (his brief support & presence turned out to be part of his attempt/campaign to reconcile & when he realized it wasn't going to happen, poof, gone again!). I would much rather have the family unity of having my son have the same last name I do (well at least I gave him my last name as his middle name). However, he is 7 now, & knows his name, so its too late for any changes.
With regards to all the comments linking names to child support. Wrong! as long as the man is the child's father, he must pay child support. Establishing that the man is the father via a paternity test has no relation to names. In most states, if the dad signed the birth certificate, this suffices & you do not need a paternity test.
As far as the name goes, wait a little bit & see how things go, but most of all, go w/your heart & trust your instincts.

A.,

I have to agree with the others & this in not "man-hating" or anything like that. A mother always has the instinct of keeping her children safe. If you have any concerns & don't let others change your mind... I would stick to your true feelings. He should love his children, no matter what their last name is. Names (especially last names are so irrelevant. I never took my husbands last name because I have issues with his family, but more so I am proud to be who I am (my maiden name... the name that my parents gave me). I did give my daughter my husband’s last name, but my husband so deserves that.

Unless you feel 100% comfortable before this point... I would wait until your children are older & let them decide (like when they are 18 and do not have the pressure of feeling that they will hurt mom/dad's feelings).

If your children's father has only been back in your lives for a short period... like less that 2 years, I would have suspicion.

My heart goes out to you. I had three children out of wedlock with my children's father. I understand. I gave them his last name because of a promise of marraige from him. It was humiliating for me when I was always called Mrs.___(at dr. offices, schools, ect) and was not married. There are many other factors that I regret about it too.

I feel a man's responisibility to his family is to honor his wife and children. A name is an honor. It becomes a part of their heritage and later thier own legacy. It is not handed over for his good behavior. It is obtained through commitment to one another. It is his duty as a man.

I understand. It is hard and an emotional subject. You have already given much for your boys. This is not about being a defiant independent woman or holding a grudge against him for selfish reasons. It is his obligation and medal that he should be proud to have for the role he has commited to for you and your boys as a family. Stand strong. Marraige...then name change. I hope it all works out well for you.

A.:

It costs money to change the names. If you want to put it off for a little and the father doesn't have an extra $250 per son laying around, then that could hold things off for awhile. If you don't see you guys getting back together then I would keep their names as is...with your last name.
I'm glad that he's participating in your children's lives now. That's great for them and him!
Good luck!

S.

It sounds like a unanimous vote here and I would have to agree. I wouldn't change their names unless you get married. Just explain to him that you aren't trying to punish him for his mistakes in the past, but that you are doing what is best for your children. If he is willing to get married and make that kind of a family commitment, then you could change all of your names to his. Good luck.

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