32 answers

Who's Name Does Baby Get in TX When Parents Aren't Married?

My step-daughter is having her first child soon and does not have a good relationship with the father of her child and they are not married. I was wondering if there were any special laws in the state of Texas regarding which surname the baby takes and what kinds of pros/cons are involved.

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Wow! Great responses all around and surprisingly almost all of the information was the same. Thanks to everyone that took the time to respond to my question.

Featured Answers

I would think it's up to the mother to decide on the last name of the baby in this situation. Side note. Inquire with the Texas Attorney General's office for Child Support ie Guardian Adlitem (spelling) Program. There's a program that you can get child support from the guy. If skips one payment, the state will go after him.

J. the baby gets the moms name. if the father wants his name on the birth certificate he has to do a paternety test

From my experience in the social work and medical field, a child can be given any last name. It does not have to be the last name of the biological father, even if the father is listed on the birth certificate. The father being listed on the birth certificate is what gives legal standing for child support without doing DNA tests. Hope that helps.

More Answers

The people who said they contacted the attorney have the right idea, if you have the time contact legal aide. If they are not on good terms and will not be having a chance of a future relationship then it is understandable the baby NOT having his last name, but if she is going to want to collect Child Support which she should then she may have to list his name on the Birth Certificate. If they are going their seperate ways this would be the best option, that way if he denies C/S then it will be easier for the state to go after him to collect. My sister had her 1st at 15, she listed the father as "Unknown" the baby has our last (maiden) name, she is now 24, at 18 she started looking for her father, she found him and it was not all she thought it was going to be. That is something else to....will your step daughter want to keep this information from the child as the child gets older, or will there be a relationship with the bio-dad? The last name is not the only issue, and if you had a crystal ball things would be alot easier!!!! Good luck and try to seek legal advice as soon as possible.

You've gotten some very accurate answers and I just wanted to add that she doesn't even have to give the baby her last name or his last name, she can choose any last name that she wants.

hi J.. i just had my son two months ago and i am not married to his father. in fact i have two boys now by the same man and we are not married. two months ago when i had my second born i filled out the birth certificate and my common law husband *thats what I call him* signed his name on the birth certificate. this gave my son his last name. lets say worst case scenario he wasn't there for us. then the lady who helped me fill it out told me i would just put my last name as his last name. and if i ever had to put child support on him that there was a number on the paperwork so i could proceed with that. of course in that case a dna test would proceed and then once it was proven then he would liable for the child. understand? i hope this helps.

You can choose the last name you want to give the child. I have a son, and gave him his father's last name. I felt it was important for him to have that link to his father, even if he wasn't around often. I wanted him to know who he his. He lives with me so he will always have that.

Additionally, my parents divorced when I was young and my mother remarried. Like someone else mentioned, I did feel bad that my last name didn't match everyone else's in the house. Now that I'm older, I am glad I still have my father's last name. It's who I am. I am a part of him, and whether our relationship is good or bad, that's just the way it is. (smile) It helps me to embrace all of who I am.

I'm sure your step-daughter will make the decision that's right for her family. Pray about it! :)

The child will recieve the mothers last name unless she signs a waiver stating the father and her are common law married.

As for pros/cons, there really are none. Its just a name.

There's no real guideline on that. It's really up to the individual personality of the judge but my experience in the last 20 years is the father's name will be preferred if he is involved. If there is any way for them to talk it through with a counselor or parent coordinator, they should try that. They would have the benefit of a neutral child specialist for setting schedules etc. and discussing things like the last name and have more control. J. D.

Why is everyone making this so difficult while this is extremely easy! Okay for a child under the age of 3 or 4, the mother can choose the last name at the time of birth and up the time the father is adjudicated. If or when that is done and if the father opposes the child's last name while the mother refuses to have it changed, the courts would have to intervene. If the father has positive working relationship with child and intended continue doing so by contributing support and exercising visitation, the courts will side with the father’s last name. This is not always the case, but 99% of time it is. This may seem unfair to a mother, but try to understand there is always a possibility the mother’s last name may change leaving the child’s last name without either parent. For the best interest of your child, try to understand how they would feel not having any obvious extinction to either parent in regards to the last name. … Thank you , I hope I saved you from your attorney fees and child’s emotional damages.

Texas Department of Health
Bureau of Vital Statistics
PO Box 12040, Austin, Texas 78711-2040
Telephone ###-###-####

You need contact the heath dept to find out what the law states. Most states DO NOT allow you to give a child a another person's last name if they DO NOT CONSENT, meaning the father has to be at the birth to sign to say "this is my child".

I just recently moved to TX. so I can only speak for the east coast, but in MD DC and VA even if a couple is married and the man is not there to sign the documents acknowledging paternity, the child is automatically given the mothers last name, regardless of martial status.

i believe that the mother can choose whichever surname she wants...including her own. (now, i don't know the rules on just making up any ol' name, but i do know that she can simply choose her own [as with the case when the mother doesn't know who the father is...]). but once it is written on the birth certificate, it can't be changed unless done so in a long legal process in which she will have to pay. but even if she's not in good standing with the father, it doesn't hurt for the child to carry his name...and the mother can also opt to list both names (mother's surname, then father's surname). hope this helps!

In Texas the father has to be present at the time of birth to sign the birth certificate, otherwise they will not put the father down. She can put her last name if she chooses. Even if he is present she can still put her surname. My first child has my surname and because his natural father was not there to sign the BC it states "father unknown". And since he choose not to be apart of his life he still has my surname. I am now married to a wonderful man and my oldest is being adopted by my husband, but he has choosen to keep my surname, since my father only had daughters he wants to carry on my family name. Also in Texas the mother's usually have first rights where children are concerned. Good Luck T.

My step daughter gave her baby the daddy's name. I think it was so it would be easier to get child support if it came down to it.

You can choose what name they get. I think you can even make it up! (Not sure, but I think... :))

From my experience in the social work and medical field, a child can be given any last name. It does not have to be the last name of the biological father, even if the father is listed on the birth certificate. The father being listed on the birth certificate is what gives legal standing for child support without doing DNA tests. Hope that helps.

Either one. My daughter wasn't married to my grandsons father either. He messed around on her & she split from him the week before they were to get married & she had just learned she was pregnant 2 weeks prior to that. He agreed to let baby have his last name only as long as child looked like him otherwise baby would have hers.

He didn't even come to the birth because they were/are still feuding. He sent his adopted mom w/ a picture of him at 6 mths old to compare w/ the baby which looked exactly like him! Now he has features like both but then he looked exactly lke him. He only came the night before they were to go home, she had a c-section, & stayed 20 minutes!
But baby can have either last name.

Hi there. Unless the law has changed lately, your grandchild will carry your daughter's last name. Here is a web site that may give more information on this subject: http://www.legalhelpinntx.com/law_office/topics/paternity.... Many Blessings to you and your family!

Me: Mother of 3, divorced, live in Texas, and opening my own business soon!

There are no laws regarding this issue, she can give the child whatever last name she wants...she doesn't even have to list him as a father!

I was 16 when I got pregnant with my first child, the father and I no longer spoke except when I called him to update him on the pregnancy. When she was born I gave her my last name and didn't even list him on the birth certificate. I am now married and my husband legally adopted her. We had to contact the father, get his approval (he approved cause he didn't want her or want to pay child support...sad, men can be pigs), he had to sign an acknowledgment of paternity, and a relinquishment of rights and then we went before the judge and it was a done deal. Now she has my husbands last name.

However if she lists another man as the father, knowing that it is not true...she can get into aloooot of trouble. But she can give the baby her last name or the fathers, at her choosing. Congrats on the grandbaby!!

Not sure about the law, but I can tell you my experience. My son's dad and I were very much a couple but we were not married. When my son was born we filled out all the paperwork giving him his dad's last name. A few weeks later when we received the copy of his birth certificate and social security card it had MY last name for my son. Whe I called to find out why this happened when I clearly requested his dad's last name, I was told that the father needed to fill out an acknowledgement of paternity form. Without the form, if the parents are unmarried, the child will automatically be given the mother's last name. We filled out the appropriate form and sent it in and his name was corrected. Hope this helps.

J. the baby gets the moms name. if the father wants his name on the birth certificate he has to do a paternety test

When I had my first baby, I wasn't married but I was living with her dad--my now husband. He did have to sign and acknowledge that she was his. Most men don't have a problem with this IF they are on good terms or are in a relationship with the mom. If not, he might want a paternity test. She REALLY needs to talk to the father about this just to see how he feels about it. Good luck!

If she is planning on collecting child support I would contact a family law attorney about the last name issue before she has the baby.
If she doesn't want child support from him, then she can give the baby her last name without listing him as the father. This would not keep the father from coming around at any point saying he wants to share the baby.
God forbid something happens to your daughter, he would be the one that would become the legal gaurdian if he made it known that the baby was his.
She can have a will made up that states in the event of her death she would like so-in-so to be considered for the baby's legal gaurdian. Unless the birth father doesn't want the baby or there's a huge reason that the baby should not go to him (such as being on drugs or something else horrible in his lifestyle~something you have 'proof' about)then he will become the legal gaurdian in the event of her death.

As far as I am aware there is no laws saying who the last name has to be. As far as who's should be it is up to you, how important is it to you. Remember the father has rights, so be careful how you go about it. God Bless.

I know someone that was unmarried when they had baby number 2. She was married when her first child was born, so he has his fathers name and when they divorced she kept the sons last name. Almost 14 years later she had a second child. The father and her have no intentions of getting married. She was told that the father needed to fill out an acknowledgement of paternity form. Without the form, if the parents are unmarried, the child will automatically be given the mother's last name. They filled out the appropriate form; however, she wanted the child to have hers and her sons last name. She felt like it would be easier on the child once she started school and less questions to her. She was advised by an attorney that if the father would be paying child support that he could demand that his daughter have his last name. Thankfully for her, he was in agreement to allow his daughter to have hers and her son's last name. I hope that this helps.

I was married but separated when i had my youngest. I was only married(under the same roof) for 3 months and hadn't heard from the father since. I really did not want my baby to have his father's last name but my attorney advised me to do so. I gave him mine and hypenated it with his as well. That is always option.

Hope this helps.

Wow, theres a lot of conflicting advice on here huh?
When I had my child we weren't on great terms either. I by choice gave her my last name, however, the nurse told me I could have put whatever last name I wanted. I wanted to list him as father on the birth certificate regardless of the name, but they won't let that happen unless he is there to sign it. Therefore the father section was left blank.

The mother determines the baby's surname. My niece was in the same position and was even told unless the father agrees to it, his name cannot be put on the birth certificate if they are not legally married. Her little boy carries her last name & (thankfully) the father's name is not on his birth certificate and he has no legal rights where the baby is concerned.

My husband and I were not married...yet...when we had our boys. The mother fills out the birth certificate. Without being married, there is an acknowledgement of paternity to fill out. This is what the father signs to "claim" the baby. I gave both of the boys his last name, but he signed the paternity papers. If she ever wants to go about dealing with child support, it is easier to have the paternity papers signed, otherwise paternity will have to be established beofre she can get anything from him. You can call any hospital that has a birthing center and ask for medical records/birth certificates and they can explain it to you.

She will get to choose the baby's last name. And the father will not be listed on the birth certificate unless he is there to sign. I chose to have my children carry my last name because when they are in school it causes less confusion and I do not have to correct them and tell them I have a different last name.

I feel that the baby should have the same last name as the mom. I was unmarried when I had my son and he had my last name. Then even after I married (not his biological father) I kept my maiden name until we were able to change both of our names to my husband's last name. One of my relatives went the other route and gave her son the father's last name. Now it is just her and her son and the dad has nothing to do with them, and he is stuck with a name that doesn't have any family history. She went to court and the dad fought her on changing the child's last name and she lost. I think he was just being a jerk since she was asking for more child support and fought her on everything.

I'm agreeing w/ those about the child having the mothers last name. I was not married when I had my first child 11 years ago, I put the father on the birth certificate, but b/c he was not there and did not fill out the paperwork - her birth certificate was blank under "Father". I gave her my last name, b/c she was a part of my family - I wanted her to have the last name of the family she was being raised by.

In my opinion, to children the last name can feel important. A few years later, I married a man who was not my daughters biological father. We had 3 boys and they all had my husbands last name, as did I when I married him. My dd always knew she was part of the family, my husband has raised her since she was 18 months old, as we tell the boys "your sister was here first" - and in her concious memory, my husband has always been daddy to her. They are "thick as theives" as they say. But when we'd get gifts that said "To the _________ Family" - she'd often feel sort of sad, or left out b/c she had a different last name. She hated when she was in sports and her last name was different than the rest of the family. While she is very secure in her realtionship in our family, she still felt left out. It took us some time to come up w/ the money, but in 2005 my husband adopted her and her last name was changed to his. It was amazing how much of a difference that meant to her! She is so proud of her last name now! She is so proud to have the same last name as her siblings and her daddy.

I realize it's just a name, and not all kids are that way, but personally, I'd hate having the last name of parent I did not know (if that ends up being the case in your stepdaughters relationship).

If he does not fill out paperwork, he will not be listed as the father on the birth certificate. She could give the child the father's last name, but if there is not a good relationship, it's my personal opinion it would be better to give the child her last name so the child always feels that "family" connection.

The last name has no effect on child support. The child's last name could be Santa Claus and it wouldn't matter. If she goes after him for child support (b/c he is unwilling or disappears) - then he may protest paternity, and he will be required to take a paternity test, at his expense (he'll have to reimburse the state). I would just make sure she knows his social security number if you predict a negative outcome about their relationship.

Good luck to her!

Someone will stop by her room while she is the hospital, they should be able to answer your questions and help filling out all of the forms. From what my boys info. says, if you aren't married to the bio. father and she wants him on the birth certificate then they have to fill out an acknowledgment of paternity and must be signed by both parents. He is required to be there when filing the paperwork, otherwise the birth certificate will be filed without the father's name. As far as the last name, I believe it is going to be up to her and what she decides she wants to do. You may want to check with the hospital where she will be giving birth....possibly medical records, or birth registrar (that is what all my info. says) and they should be able to help. Good luck!

I would think it's up to the mother to decide on the last name of the baby in this situation. Side note. Inquire with the Texas Attorney General's office for Child Support ie Guardian Adlitem (spelling) Program. There's a program that you can get child support from the guy. If skips one payment, the state will go after him.

I work at a hospital with postpartum patients. In Texas, you can give your child any last name you want. Father's, mother's, grandmother's...Texas doesn't care. It is up to whoever fills out the birth certificate.

if the father is not here to sign and sign the paternity acknowledgement the child will get her name.. Now in texas if the parents arent married a DNA is required for child support, etc... but the baby will get your name.. hope that helps! manda

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.