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Hyphenated Last Name


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#1 mubette

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Posted 04 February 2010 - 09:23 PM

I was unmarried at the time I had my son.  His father was not present at his birth or for the first 2 1/2 years of his life; by choice.  I gave my son his name, middle name and my last name.  His father was not on the birth certificate.

When the state went after his father for child support, he took me to court regarding paternity, custody issues, etc.. At the time he requested that our sons last name be changed to his.  I was completely against it, as he wasn't present at the birth or for some years after.  The commissioner was, in my opinion, very unfair, in that he pretty much forced to be agreeable to having his last name somewhere in his name, or he would decide on it himself.  I gave in to hyphenating his last name on to mine. 

As our son has gotten older, the last name has become an issue.  Our son doesn't have the greatest relationship with his dad.  He doesn't participate in his life (sports, school, etc.), unless it "his" weekend.  So basically he has chosen to parent only on his time.  My son is now 10 years old and has pretty much gotten used to his father not participating much.  He doesn't even want to go to his house every other weekend because he just doesn't feel comfortable with him...anyhow...my son has identified with my last name, I suppose, because I am the one involved in every aspect of his life. 

The last couple of years, when enrolling our son in sports we only sign him up using my last name...it's how everyone knows him and how he feels comfortable.  Well his dad has begun to make a big stink about it and emailing his coaches to change the registration form, rosters, and everything else to his "legal last name".  This even though he rarely comes to watch him play and it would have to be on "his weekend".  My son is really upset about all this because he doesn't want them announcing them with both names. 

So....my question is, do I have to sign him up for sports with both last names?  His medical and school records all use the hyphenated last name, but would this be a legal situation if I opt to just use my last name for sports?  The court order only states the change from his original name to the hyphenated one, but isn't specific as to when it has to be used.  A second question would be, at any point, would our son be able to drop his fathers name and only use mine?


#2 mubette

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Posted 04 February 2010 - 09:24 PM

Sorry:  We are in the state of California


#3 Ted_from_Texas

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 01:56 AM

What's in a name, anyway?  Your son is who he is regardless of any handle sombody hangs on him.  If he understands that it will make his life easier.  There are plenty of kids out there who love both their parents but hate their names anyway, so why should your son be any different?


Second question first.  Your son can drop the hyphenated name and change it legally to yours only when he reaches the age of majority, which is 18 in all but a few states.


As for what name he must use until then, all documents of a legal nature (passport, driver's license, Social Security, etc.) must use his legal (hyphenated) name.  Anything else can use whatever name you like as an alias, but you cannot prevent your ex from going behind you and asking whoever to change it to the legal form.  If he insists that the sports records show the hyphenated name, you can simply request that the announcer at games use the unhyphenated one.  If Dad's not going to be there anyway, how's he going to object?


There's no law that specifies that a person's legal name be used in all circumstances.  You'd be surprised at what's on the driver's licenses of quite a number of well-known celebrities.



#4 mubette

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 03:50 AM

Thank you Ted for that!  I am with you in regards to what is a name.  I explain that to my son whenever these issues come up.  I also try to explain to his dad that neither one of us own our child and that some day he may decide to go by Joe Blow for all we'd like.  I think at this age, it means the world to these kids what their jersey's look like and what is on their jackets as well as how they are announced when up to bat.  I have learned to pick my battles carefully with his father, so this may seem like a trivial one, but I suppose underneath it all, it's a lot of issues attached to this one.

The town we live in is very small and I have lived here all my life so I tend to know most everyone.  They have no problem leaving his last name as mine or adding his last name...they always ask me what I would like them to do.  I suppose there is that part of me that just wants them to tell him that this is an issue that he and I should discuss but that he has already been registered and I was just wondering if there would be any legal ramifications for doing so.  I figure if we do that, he will drop it, my son will be able to have his name as he'd like and we can just move on.

I appreciated your response; thank you!



#5 Kota2468

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Posted --

Do you know if the law for using a hyphenated name is the same in MA?
After five years this has become an issue for us as well.  We use my
son's full hyphenated, legal name on all legal documents and paperwork
but when it comes to extra curricular activities my son prefers just to
use mine without adding his fathers. It is neither my or my sons intention to leave his father out, it's just what he feels more comfortable doing. Your post, mubette, is the only item that I have been able to find online even close to what we are dealing with.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.




#6 Ted_from_Texas

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 12:20 AM

The above discussion is generally applicable in every state.  Note that "mubette" never mentioned her state, and for all I know it could be Massachusetts, same as you.




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