My Childs Last Name and Husbands Rights

Updated on November 27, 2012
K.C. asks from Greenville, MS
16 answers

I live in Mississippi and my husband recently left me for another woman. I am 8 months pregnant and I'm not sure where he is. I want her to have my maiden name. Can I mark father unknown? The only thing I have had changed to my married name is my social security card (if that matters) ??

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So What Happened?

i dont want to collect child support because the woman that he is with isnt safe for my child to be around and i am afraid that if they try to find him and get child support that he will then get visitation and have my baby in harms way

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answers from Jackson on

You have no choice in listing the baby's father on the birth certificate. I live in Mississippi. My sister was separated from her first husband and got pregnant with another guy she was dating. In Mississippi, if you are married 1 day between conception and birth, that is the legal father. The birth father was on SSI, so my sister filed for support benefits for the baby. The father insisted on a paternity test first, which proved him the father, and she received benefits, but the baby's last name remains the first husband's name.

Brilliant sister got pregnant again by yet another man before the divorce was final. She hid the 4 mths pregnancy when she went before the judge to finalize it. She filed for a birth certificate with the birth father's name, but it came back with the husband's name. The divorce was finally done after that birth, and the chlid's name was changed to his birth father's.



answers from Jonesboro on

Unfortunately, child support and visitation are two totally seperate issues. He can get visitation whether he pays child support or not. Is it right....I don't think so but I don't write the rules. I would contact an attorney because as long as yall are legally married I would think he would automatically be named as father.

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answers from San Francisco on


If you put "father unknown" on your child's birth certificate, it could and will cause great trauma for your child in future. (i.e. my mother did not know who my father was). Please don't do this.

Child support has NOTHING to do with visitation rights.

Check with MS laws, but if your husband has abandoned you, file for divorce immediately under the grounds of abandonment (if you TRULY do not know where he is and have no way of finding out).

Don't give up child support rights. If he or his girlfriend are unfit, you can make arrangements for sole custody and/or supervised visitation only for the father of your child. Again, unless you are rolling in money and will not have to go on the dole to support your unborn child...DO NOT give up support from the child's father.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

If you know who the father is you should list him as the father for child support purposes. However, even if you list the father as the father you can give your child whatever last name you wish. The child doesn't automatically get the father's last name just because he is listed as the father.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

In the space for last name, put in your maiden name and that will be her name. You do want to put his name in the father's space so that you can collect child support.

If you won't be getting child support from him you may want to receive state assistance. If his name isn't in the father's space they will try to track him down and he'll have to take a paternity test. Keep life as simple as possible and put him down as the father.

The fact that your name is different on your SS card is not relevant. Your name on SS is totally unrelated to parentage. And the fact that your child has your maiden name does not relieve your husband from the responsibility of providing financial support.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Please, please get a lawyer involved immediately so you do not make a huge mistake. If you try to leave the father off the birth certificate and later on you do pursue child support, you will be in a huge mess. His being forced to pay support does NOT necessarily mean he is entitled to visitation rights. You dont' know where he is now -- but he could turn up any time, any day, and claim rights as the father of all your children. You must have a lawyer if that happens! If you can't really afford one, ask at a local Legal Aid office or a local "women's center" where they advise women who are in tough situations.

Please don't go around believing that child support will somehow "buy" him access to your children. That is not necessarily the case. But be aware that he does indeed have certain rights unless he's abusive. Still -- He seems to have legally abandoned the family if you don't even know his whereabouts. See an attorney about how to prove abandonment and ask what happens after that. Abandonment is considered pretty serious by most family courts.

Do not do this on your own!

These are his children; he OWES you support for them. Don't let him get away with not paying it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

You need to think of your child. If you are independently wealthy and can afford lots of attorney fees when he decides he wants visitation and maybe even custody then go ahead with the plans you have now. You can disappear and not be seen or heard from again.

However, if your child needs that financial support you will have to do this the right way. If you EVER file for food stamps, child care assistance, state financial assistance if you are out of a job, anything from the state you will most likely have to give them a list of everyone you suspect might be the child's father and they will make each and every one of those men go for a paternity test. You will receive the benefits but the men will continuously have to go be tested. If they know you were married then they will expect you to list him.

There is no reason to make this more difficult. Some day he will likely grow up and realize he wants to know his child. They you will have a lot of explaining to do to that child.

You should not morally do this in my opinion. Even if he is a louse he has the legal and moral right to have access to his child no matter how he treated you. He may not ever take that opportunity but he should have that choice.

Asking him to sign away his parental rights at some point in the future when he is owing a ton of back child support is also good leverage to get him to sign them away. They you'd never have contact again.

The point is, if he ever comes looking for his child and finds that you have done the things you are saying then you could be in trouble legally. He could claim you hid his child from him all these years and basically kidnapped them since you never even put him on the birth certificate.

By stating you don't know who the father is you are lying on a legal document. To me that is wrong and could be later found to be an issue with some legal consequences.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

You really, really need a lawyer. You should put your husband on the birth certificate because he is her father. Even if you don't put him on it, he'll be presumed to be the father because you'll still be married when the baby is born.

Not only that, but the fact that he's left you (I'm so sorry about that) is a completely different matter than whether or not he's deserving and has parental rights over the new baby. He does have custodial rights if he wants them, even if his current girlfriend is a skank. But custodial rights are separate than that baby deserving to have child support payments.

In my honest opinion, you need to make certain that he's listed as the father on the birth certificate and immediately file for custody and child support. If you share more than one child, do the same for all children involved. Get a good lawyer immediately to walk you through all of this... one that will not only have your best interests in a separation and divorce and doing it the right way, but will have your children's best interests as well (legally speaking). If your husband won't do it, you have to.

I really am very sorry.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Biloxi on

I live in mississippi.
First the state will not finalize a divorce if you are prevnant - they will not illegitamize a baby. Archaic but true.
Second, if you ever file for asistance ( snap, tanf, etc) the state will want to go after him for child support. If his name is on the birth certificate then paternity is already proven for their purposes. If not then they have to prove paternity.
Thirdly, he helped create this child within the confines your marraig thereby implying that he planned on raising and supportin this child. His name being on the birth certificate makes collecting child support easier.

You do not have to give your child his last name. My son has my last name even though his father is on the birth certifacte. Also ask the judge to put a morals clause in the child custody agreement. Remember that you are your child's best advocate.

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answers from Redding on

Laws vary from state to state. However, I know that in California, if you ever need assistance from social services, they simply don't allow you to say you don't know who the father of the baby is. And, if you are legally married at the time of conception, birth, etc, there is an assumption of paternity.

Having done birth certificates at a hospital, at least here in California, you can give your baby any name you want. I found it quite prevalent in Hispanic families for a child to be given a last name that didn't match either one of the parents.

There is an option, in certain circumstances, in which the father's name can be listed as "withheld" on the birth certificate. However, that's usually done in cases where the parents aren't married and for whatever reason the father would not or could not sign a declaration of paternity.

You should contact the Office of Vital Statistics in your county and ask them about the laws in your state regarding birth certificates.

Also, keep in mind that regardless of what you name the baby, should he come back into the picture, establish paternity and petition for rights to see the child, he can do that.

The last name and what the birth certificate says is a completely separate issue from custodial and visitation rights. Again, check with someone well versed and experienced with the laws in your state.

I'm sorry you're going through this.
Take care of yourself.
Best and healthy wishes to you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Is it hard to be a single Mother? Hell yes! Is it wrong to want what's in the best interest of you child? No.

That said, you are going about this wrong. As others have said, if you put father unknown, you are asking for trouble. If you are married, you have to list him as a parent.
You do NOT, however, need to give your child his name. not even if you were married. You are not even required to take your husbands last name. Some don't for business reasons(wife has successful business, and is well-known), some men even take on their wives last names.

My son has my last name, and since where I live doesn't recognise Common-Law marriages/partnerships, he skipped out and figured out he didn't need to provide anything. He technically does, but I've gone without healthcare on myself and declined pursuit of paternity to keep from drama.

File paperwork, he still has to provide you with healthcare and such until your child is born. He cannot legally remove you from it until then, and the divorce proceedings are final. As someone else pointed out, abandonment is grounds for divorce, and might even help you in fast-tracking it.

For government assistance, just know that you personally will be without healthcare for refusing to look for him(until the new healthcare system kicks in anyway), but your child will be taken care of.

Get back on your feet, and take the best care of yourself and your little one.

Take things one step at a time, and don't dwell on the "what-if's". They'll drive you mad.

Take care Mama!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

Better check the laws in the state of Mississippi. It could be that it would not matter whether or not he paid child support. He can still haul you into court and demand custody. If you don't have a job, the state may give him the baby if he can "provide", and then you have to pay HIM child support. (Hopefully you have a job...)

Even if the court wouldn't give him sole custody, he can get custodial visits.

Talk to a family lawyer and find out what your rights are and get some good advice before the baby is born.

Good luck,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Visitation is not the same as child support. He created a child. He should pay to support that child. My father did not have visitation but was supposed to pay child support.

If you are married when the child is born, the father will be presumed to be your husband, regardless of whether or not he's around. My friend made sure that her divorce (mutually agreed to, so they could go to the same lawyer and sign papers together) was done before she gave birth because the ex was not the father and did not want to saddle him with someone else's child. (Even if your state allows divorce while pregnant, you don't have time before the baby arrives - it's mostly a point that he'll be the father on paper anyway note.) Further, what if this relationship doesn't last? Is he a bad father or a bad husband? I know someone who hates her ex for leaving her for another woman, but admits that he's stepped up to take care of their kids.

I think you can give your child any last name you want. I gave my DD a double last name.

I think the bigger issue is that you need to get a lawyer and figure out how to protect yourself and your child, get a legal separation and take steps toward the divorce on your terms. You need to have answers, not unknown fears. You just got left, you're pregnant, and your world is upside down. Make informed decisions, not react out of fear and anger.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

First, I'm so sorry that you're going through this. What an awful situation. Lesley B is right. Because you are married, your husband is the presumed father and will have all of the legal rights and responsibilities of a father even if he's not there and even if you don't list him on the birth certificate. And you can't even get divorced while pregnant. When you do get divorced, whether or not you have any children will come up. You can't lie about that, and custody, child support and visitation will be settled as part of the divorce process.

You can name your child whatever you want. You may be able to lie and omit his name from the birth certificate at birth, but that doesn't negate his paternity or his rights (and responsibilities). At some point, your child will have to be dealt with in the divorce process and it would probably look bad if you lied about this. If his name weren't on the birth certificate, it could later be added. In order to have him NOT be the legal father, another man would have to step up and claim to be the father and be able to prove it via DNA, or later you could have someone else adopt him. The goal of these laws is to ensure that whenever possible, a child has both biological parents, or a bio parent and adoptive step-parent, taking legal and financial responsibility of a child.

As others have mentioned, if you need any kind of government assistance, they will go after your husband first. Even if you don't need help, it will cost you nothing to get a child support order in place. As Gamma G mentioned, if he's the kind of loser who won't pay anyway, then it can be a great incentive for him to stay away. My oldest son's father was a little crazy and unstable when I knew him so the fact that there is a warrant out for his arrest for years of unpaid child support has kept him quiet and far away for many years.

Have you ever heard the phrase "don't borrow trouble"? Try to think of that when you start to project out all of the awful "what ifs" you can think of happening in the future. It's good to prepare and think ahead, but really try to live in the present for now and focus on your pregnancy and your baby. I wouldn't worry about the woman he left you for. If she really is dangerous, document what you know about her in case you ever need to present a reason for him to not have unsupervised visits, but my guess is that that relationship won't last long anyway so there's no use getting all worked up over it. The time line for custody and visitation in divorce is many months just to get to the initial hearing.

You will need to file for divorce. If you have the means to do so, I would find an attorney now who can start on that. You can't complete this while you're pregnant, but you can at least start the process now.

Best of luck to you and your baby - I hope you have a fast and healthy delivery. Staring down single motherhood is scary and sucks, but you can do it - my 5 years of single motherhood were the most rewarding of my life. I wish you the best!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

It depends on your state. I did not have to list anyone as the father on my daughter's birth certificate. I left it blank.
Your state may require the father to be listed, especially if you plan to dun him for child support.
Ask your lawyer about the name issue. My daughter has my name, but I was never married to her father.
Visitation and child support are two separate issues in my state. The non-custodial parent is required to pay support regardless of the visitation arrangement. Check with your lawyer.



answers from San Francisco on

You can give your child ANY name that you want and you most certainly can mark down father "Unknown".

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