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Problems when your child has a different last name?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone. I know this won't apply to a lot of folks, but I am wondering if anyone can give me advice from experience about how it is to have a different last name from your child. I am not a single parent now but will be having a baby this fall, and one of the options under consideration is giving the baby a unique last name to be just his own, different from mine.

 

For any of you that are differently surnamed from your offspring, can you tell me where, if ever, you run into difficulties with third parties? (This is more about logistics, and not including any grief from extended family members, which I know can be considerable).

 

Places where I have been imagining trouble include scenarios where someone might demand that I "prove" I'm really his mother:

 

 

  • signing child out from school
  • traveling with child, especially internationally
  • extra hoops at the doctor's office / hospital
  • managing health insurance
  • opening/administering joint accounts with child

 

Also, if you have had issues, what do you usually do to resolve them? Do you have to fax a birth certificate around? 

post #2 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by nmouse View Post

 

 

  • signing child out from school
  • traveling with child, especially internationally
  • extra hoops at the doctor's office / hospital
  • managing health insurance
  • opening/administering joint accounts with child

 

 

DD and I have different surnames, and really, it hasn't been a problem.  That said, she has her father's last name, we're both on her birth certificate, and he is deceased.  So all I have to do to establish my parental bona fides is present her birth certificate and his death certificate.  I'm not sure that our experience would pertain to your situation.

 

You'll certainly want to keep a birth certificate on hand, but it's been my experience that it's been a non issue for health insurance, bank, school and doctor (haven't had to deal with a hospital yet for DD, thankfully).   As for travelling, I think that the hoops you'd have to to jump through aren't triggered by having different surnames, they'd apply to all parents who are applying for a passport or travelling without the other parent's presence/consent.

post #3 of 16

My son has his father's last name (which I don't share, we never married) and it hasn't caused any problem so far, we've travelled abroad a couple times and we were just advised to have a birth certificate on hand and a letter from the father to give permission to travel, but were never actually asked to produce this letter. The only problem I've had is sometimes being assumed to have the same surname as my son and being called Mrs X which is quite funny :) I think with birth certificate you should be ok.

post #4 of 16

 

I am married but kept my own name and my baby has her fathers name.  This has not been an issue at all in any situation.  The only time it even came up was in the Hospital where they asked several times if we were married because putting the fther on the birth certificate is different if you are married or single. Sometimes I may be assumed to have the same last name as her or she is assumed to have my last name but no ones ever questioned that I am her mother. 

 

 

post #5 of 16

It's pretty common.  We've never had any problems.

post #6 of 16

Saw this from new posts. I have a different last name than my children, and it's never been an issue. At daycare/school, they know who the parents are. My health insurance just wants me to sign a document saying they are my dependents. For the bank, you can open a joint account with anyone, as long as you both have a social security #. The only time I'd have a birth certificate with me would be travel when your child is pre-verbal. (International travel will require a passport anyway.) For domestic travel, my kids have been asked a total of zero times whether I'm their mother.

post #7 of 16

My son has his dad's last name, but I have sole legal custody.  It's a complete non-issue so far.  No one has ever asked (but he's like a carbon copy of me, so maybe that helps a bit?)

post #8 of 16

I kept my maiden name when I got married.  So far it hasn't been an issue for anyone but my inlaws!  I get weird looks occasionally at the docs, but nothing beyond that.

post #9 of 16

I think this is very common nowadays. I have never had a problem in any context. Have never needed extra documentation for any reason. Never had anyone ask about it or give me funny looks- except my son! LOL My son is six and has his dad's last name.  He doesn't like that I don't have the same name as him and his dad but I do have the same last name as his favorite cousins and such.

post #10 of 16

Never been a problem for me and my son is now an adult- 19yo.  I have been a solo parent, enrolled him in school, did all of the doctor's visits, cub scouts, sports and travelled internationally without incident.

 

Like  pp mentioned, the only time it ever comes up is when one of his friends, teachers, whoever calls me Mrs DS'sLastname.  It's not a problem because I know they are referring to me and I get the heads up that it is regarding DS, lol.

post #11 of 16

My kids and I have the same last name.

 

But,no one has ever checked to see if names match.  It rarely does.  it is really a non issue.  Also, if you are johnson or anderson your last name will match half the people in town.  A matching last name means nothing.  All they ever ask for for proof is birth certificate and social security number.  Mostly just the birth certificate (original copy with seal/watermark).   Usually my word is good enough.  The only thing I have not done is travel internationally and everything else was done with a birth certificate or my signature alone.

post #12 of 16

DD has her biodad's last name, and truth be told, the only person it bothers...is me :D probably because the last name reminds me of all the grief he put us through. Also, we now live in a province that makes it near impossible to change one's last name, unless one happens to have an infamous last name, like Hitler. I truly regret giving DD her biodad's last name, because quite frankly, I could have given her mine and he wouldn't have cared less.

 

Anyhow, there have been no administrative troubles, though people do give me weird looks because my last name and DD's are so vastly different (Vietnamese and something sounding vaguely European). I've been using mine last name as hers, informally, because I do plan on petitioning the courts to change the name eventually. In any case, whether or not DD has my last name or not, and whether or not I have sole legal custody, I am still required to provide her biodad's written authorization, or an exemption from the courts, if I seek to travel abroad with her. So, for now, no travelling outside the country.

post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 

These answers have been really helpful. Thanks everyone!

post #14 of 16

I have a different name from my kids because when I separated from my ex I changed my name back to my maiden name (I never wanted to change it to begin with).  I have not had any problems.  At the most, someone might be confused and then you just clarify.  My name is Susie Jones and my daughters name is Katie Whatever.  It's not a problem and no one's going to question your parenthood, although they might need to seek you out if they have to find you.

 

I personally would want my kids to have mine or my ex's last name.  I wonder if it would be weird for the kid growing up to have a really unique last name and have to explain to every single friend, teacher, and stranger why his last name is blazinghummingbird or whatever.  Unless, maybe, you live in Oregon...it'd probably be cool out therewinky.gif

post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by nmouse View Post

 

  • signing child out from school
  • traveling with child, especially internationally
  • extra hoops at the doctor's office / hospital
  • managing health insurance
  • opening/administering joint accounts with child

 

Also, if you have had issues, what do you usually do to resolve them? Do you have to fax a birth certificate around? 



All of these things, except the health insurance piece, require a birth certificate initially anyways so it really shouldn't be an issue.  Health insurance companies require a social security number and ours didn't question me having a different last name.  You may have to show ID to pick your child up if the teacher doesn't recognize you, especially in daycare, but that is a safety thing they do to everyone to make sure they don't send your child home with the wrong person, especially if she showed the same affection to everyone who walked in the door and called them all mama.

 

I get funny looks sometimes but nothing beyond that. 

post #16 of 16

subbing! I never changed my name after being married so my kids and I have different last names. So far it hasn't been an issue.

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