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Child's surname and problems with ex

SoundOfRain's picture

Hi all. New here. I want to check my thinking.

My ex-boyfriend and I have joint physical custody of our 6-year old. There are no other kids. I was married before pregnancy for a few years. I kept my married name--too much hassle to change it back. I didn't want to get married again when I got pregnant, which caused some distancing with ex-bf. We soon split for that and other reasons. Since birth our child has gone by hyphenated surname--Father's name-hyphen-My name. Bio father is good father. He takes care of school, childcare, no financial problems, almost always covers for me when working late or other commitments. He and child have good relationship. Dad and I=just okay relationship. Seen worse.

I remarried two years ago to another man who was more compatible. He also has good relationship with child, although bio-dad refuses to call him step father which I find extremely annoying. Bio-dad lives about a mile from us.

Child is now six and bio-dad tells me he'd like son to have only his real dad's name, in other words my last name comes off. I don't agree. Bio-dad says it is confusing to our son and to other people that he has another man's name as the second name and because in a hyphenated name situation, the first part of surname tends to get dropped over time. I haven't heard of that happening?

Is my child's surname set-up so unusual, even if it is partly my ex-husband's name? It's my name now too. I didn't even change my name to my new husband's name so son and I would have the same name. I don't plan to have more kids with my husband and he was previously single. No kids. Will it be confusing for our child to keep surname as is? Will I lose something if I agree with bio-dad? Male territorial pride at work here? Thanx.

Lalena75's picture

Let me make sure I understand your son's legal surname is bio dad hyphen step dad? or just that's what you have him go by? I see no reason ever unless adopted and a bio parent is dead or signed off their rights to give any child a step parents last name.
However if it's bio-dad hyphen your maiden name then that would be just as confusing since your new married name wouldn't match. Just seems way convoluted so I'm not sure I understood so my two cents on what I think I read

icehockey101's picture

My SS 19 is BD last name-BM last name. He has only ever gone by BM last name. And while at 16 there were talks (by BM) about it being legally changed to his middle name, he has never pursued that. I think it is really just how he chooses to go, and then if he wants to change it as an adult he can.

SoundOfRain's picture

Sorry for the confusion.

No, his legal surname is bio-dad's surname then my surname (which happens to be my ex-husband's surname from before I met bio-dad because I've kept my name from my first marriage).

SanAntonioSoccerMom's picture

I've known a couple of women who have given their children their ex husband's last name (not any blood relation to a child), which I find odd. I don't see a hassle of changing a name back to a maiden name, but that is just me. I know two of the three "children" changed their last names as soon as they turned 18. My husband included in the one of three. At age 43 he is still pissed that his mother game him some random man's last name, especially when she went on to change her name when he was 2. So he was really the odd child out.

Edit: Your bio says you are a bio father???

Anywho78's picture

I'm with the others on this...I think that the last name of the child you share with XBF should be not include a random XH's name. I've seen many instances where the first part of a hyphenated last name has been dropped. Hyphenated names can get confusing.

Is there a reason you don't want your son to have his father's last name?

Megh's picture

I have researched this with my son when I was choosing his last name prior to birth, again after break-up with his Dad, then again when I married. Every person I spoke with who had a hyphened name growing up hated it. I would meet strangers and notice their name and ask...I was seriously contemplated and trying to find the best solution for my son when he was older. When he was born we (his parents) decided to give him his father's natural father's surname. Confused? yeah. So was I when I found out the story of the surnames at 7 months pregnant. BD was raised with the last name of his Mother's ex husband. She was in the process of a divorce when he was born and her reasoning: He had an older half brother at the time and his mother felt it was best to keep both children's names the same to save confusion as it was her legal last name at the time my ex was born. Trust me: this man grew to resent his mother and hate the fact he had another man's last name when his younger brothers and his father had a different last name and a name he felt he rightfully should have. He had trouble trying to legally change the name as he got older due to the cost involved. He tried to just drop the name and go by the one surname of his dad's ; but whenever he applied for work, or opened a bank account it would hyphen and reappear. He found identity he always wanted when we chose the one name for our son.

SanAntonioSoccerMom's picture

My husband felt the same way. I agree with you 100%. At age 10 my husband found out that his last name was a name of some man he had never met and had to relation to. He changed it as soon as he turned 18, and at age 43 he still holds a lot of resentment to his mother over it.

SoundOfRain's picture

"Is there a reason you don't want your son to have his father's last name?"

Sorry again for the confusion. My son does have his dad's last name followed by my last name, as a hyphenated surname. So he is: First Name BioDad Surname-BioMom Surname.

It just so happens that my surname is my married name from my first marriage, not my maiden name. So, I was born as Smith, then I married Jones. Then I divorced Jones. But I kept the Jones name. When my son was born, I was not married to bio-dad/bf. I originally gave son surname of Jones. But bf made such a big hassle that I agreed to a hyphenated surname as long as Jones came second. He didn't like that either. But he knew he wasn't going to win it in court because we were unmarried. This contributed to break up actually.

Now bf is making an issue of it again, maybe because son is older. He maintains that surname will become confusing for our son because it happens to also be my ex-husband's name and that it would be better for him to have bio-dad's surname only. In other words, eliminate the hyphenated surname. But that means eliminating my name, which is the part that doesn't make sense to me. Is this kind of hyphenation that unusual? Or so harmful for my son?

oldone's picture

Every one keeps harping on "it's some random man's name" - but it is HER name. This is the name she chooses to use.

Doesn't matter whether it came from her father, her ex husband, or if she picked it out of a book - it is HER name. If she wants to keep her son's name hyphenated then she should do so.

She and BF agreed on the name. Neither should arbitrarily get to change it. The child can at majority change it to anything.

StickAFork's picture

They weren't married. There's no reason AT ALL that OP should have even given the baby his name in the first place.
She compromised and gave the baby BOTH of their names.

StickAFork's picture


I would feel differently if OP changed her name when she remarried. She is, however, still "Jones."

OP, you and your son have the same last name (although his is hyphenated.)

Leave it alone. He doesn't have "some random man's name." He has YOUR name.

StepDoormat's picture

I agree with this. When I divorced, I kept my ExHs name because it was the name I had used for many, many years and had built my professional reputation with. I still use my ex-husband's name for professional purposes because I have publications in that name and professional contacts who know me only by that name. My legal name is newDHs... and he doesn't have a problem with me using my exHs for professional purposes... because it is MY name - it has nothing to do with my ex.

Disneyfan's picture

The father really didn't have a choice in the matter. They weren't married.

Yeah it is some random name. The kid has no idea who Mr. Jones is.

Gabriels Mom's picture

My son has two middle names so do I and all of my siblings and well everyone in my mom's family...I'm not quite sure where it started or how long it's been going on. 4 of us kept this tradition. My son has his own name (I don't like the jr thing) and then it's my dad's first name and my husband's first name. DH wasn't really keen on it when I first mentioned it to him, but warmed up to the idea when I wouldn't budge on having my dad's name as the middle name (He wanted DS to have the same middle name as SS which is his first name) So in the end I got my way and his name flows beautifully.

StickAFork's picture

I was remarried to DH for more than 3 years before I changed my name. I was married to DH with XH's last name for that time.
It's JUST a name.

herewegoagain's picture

You have a son, he's a good dad, get over it and give him his dad's last name. Simple. Your feelings are truly irrelevant at this point. He should have ALWAYS had just his dad's name. Your new husband's name is truly irrelevant, especially since he has a great dad...Don't mess with that or YOU will pay for it later on.

PS-by giving your son anything BUT his father's last name you are in essence trying to distance him from his father for your own reasons...if later on that distance becomes true, you will have NOBODY to blame but yourself. All of these kids of remarried parents whose mother wants to change their last name from their bio-dads are ONLY doing it for themselves and to "prove a point" to the kid...period. Get over it and think of YOUR SON for a change.

smithsgirl's picture

My skids BM has kept the same surname as my husband even though they've been divorced for yonks. Her reasoning was she wanted the same surname as all her kids, which I can kind of see where she's coming from. When she went on to have 3 more kids with two different fathers she insisted in giving them the same surname as her other kids. That's right ,Tue dame as my partner's even though he has nothing to do with her youngest. The twins there was no father in the picture so I let that go ,she obviously gave them her surname. However when it came to her other kid where there is a father in the picture ,she refused to have his surname and gave the kid hers. Which wouldn't be so bad if it was actually her surname but it's another man's and that must've felt pretty shit to the kids father.
I'm pretty sure she only dos this so it wasn't so obvious she had 7 kids with 3 different fathers ,and because she was hoping partner would go back to her when pregnant with the twins as she'd been ditched by the twins father. Luckily ,partner gained a backbone from somewhere.'s picture

I think maybe I can see where you are coming from with this. My ex husband's last name was my last name for so long it just FELT like my last name. After we got divorced I didn't bother to change it because of my kids. I didn't really even want to. At some point it had ceased being the last name of the man I married and just became my own last name. Even now I hate that I don't have the same last name as my kids anymore (and that I share a last name with skids and their BM).

If you feel like your current last name is YOUR last name, then I don't see the hyphenated thing being a problem. If your son decides later that he hates it, then you can do something about it. Till then, I'd leave it.

SanAntonioSoccerMom's picture

I have a coworker that was married to a Japanese man for about two year. She moved to Japan after marriage and came back to the states shorty thereafter...she has been divorced for 8 years now and stills go by her ex's Japanese last name. I really, for the life of me, cannot figure out why she still goes by his last name. Hypothetically thinking, I think it would be really weird for her to have a child and give it "her" (not really) last name. Why name your kid "Ben Hashimoto" when he is #1 not Japanese and #2 not related to this man and never met him nor would he ever meet him.

Jsmom's picture

You are being unreasonable. The child should have the fathers name. I don't have my current husbands last name and that is my preference. But, you are setting that child up for ridicule and identity issues. It is my choice what I do, but, my child has his late fathers last name and that is what society dictates.

Seriously, do the right thing and use the Bio Fathers last name.

Unfreakingreal's picture

Drop the last name and leave him with his bio fathers surname. Who hyphenates kids names anyway? The Jolie-Pitt clan yes, but that's just weird for everyday kids.

xtina's picture

My son has his fathers last name. I almost gave him my last name but his dad through a fit. The reason for that is my EXBF doesn't even know where his last name came from. It's not his dad's last name. It's one of his mom's many exhusband's last names. I don't want my son to have a last name that has no family meaning.
What I'm getting at is your son should have a last name that mean's something to him. Having a weird hyphenated last name is going to confuse him. Let him have his dad's. It's not a 'losing battle' for you.

SanAntonioSoccerMom's picture

That is exactly why my husband changed his name at 18. He changed it from "some guy he never met" to his bio dad's last name. Even tho bio dad was never really a part of his life, that is still his name and heritage.

SoundOfRain's picture

Thanks for all comments. I am surprised about so many strong feelings about taking away my surname from my child. I thought the fact that we weren't married would count for something. Also I'm surprised that bio-dad isn't satisfied. He got what he wanted. He got the name. IMO this is just him pushing pushing all the time. First he agreed to hyphenated name. Now he isn't happy with that. What next? I wonder about waiting five years and see if he becomes more accustomed. My child will also be more accustomed. Then he'll be old enough to decide for himself. It's hard to know what is best. I have a feeling that bio-dad is going to become insistent and annoying when it would be better to just let it go.

december82's picture

It would be different if it was the surname you were born with, instead of some long ago ex.... Im sorry but i kind of agree with bio dad on this one. Either change it to your original family name or just bio dads name <--- since they do have a good relationship this is the option id go with.

emotionaly beat up's picture

I agree with the geneology aspect. And it is really important down the track for tracing family history. If you really want your son to have some part of your name in his surname, then let it be your madien name, that is after all your sons family line.

Personally I get your bf is just being a man about this and I'd not bother on that level, but I get where he's coming from, and understand his point of view. It's not unreasonable. Men do feel more strongly about this than most women. As far as I'm concerned your son and yourself have the same last name and tha is what you put on his birth certificate. But Other posters are right. You have attached a surname to a child when that man has no connection whatsoever with the child, no family connection nothing. Why not take your son out of the middle of this and just agree to either give him his father's surname only or your maiden name and his father's surname.

But as I say from a geneology point of view maybe it would be best to change it to your maiden name if you want him to have the two surnames. No one can argue with that. And why not change your surname back to your maiden name while your at it. Then once again you and your so have the same name.

Gabriels Mom's picture

What was the purpose of hypenating the name in the first place? If DH and I weren't married I would have just given DS DH's last name.

BM kept DH's last name even after requesting to get her maiden name back after the divorce. She said she wanted to have the same last name as DH. I think she kept DH's name to drive him crazy. When she was engaged she posted on her FB "I can't wait to get rid of the douche bag's last name." FTR I do not stalk her FB....I saw it on SS's FB which is also the reason she is no longer a friend on SS's page.

InNeedOfGuidance12's picture

I agree with most the posts. If my mother was married prior to my conception and kept that last name then gave it to me I would have been angry, and changed it as soon as I could. I have a wonderful father. However if it was a maiden name that matched my grandparents, that would have been fine. The fact of the matter is you and your son are the only ones named "Jones". When I get married in 2 weeks, I'm keeping my maiden name. Any kids will have my FDH's last name. I wouldn't saddle them down with a hyphenation, and I definitely wouldn't give them a prior husband's name.

InNeedOfGuidance12's picture

I agree with most the posts. If my mother was married prior to my conception and kept that last name then gave it to me I would have been angry, and changed it as soon as I could. I have a wonderful father. However if it was a maiden name that matched my grandparents, that would have been fine. The fact of the matter is you and your son are the only ones named "Jones". When I get married in 2 weeks, I'm keeping my maiden name. Any kids will have my FDH's last name. I wouldn't saddle them down with a hyphenation, and I definitely wouldn't give them a prior husband's name.