Advice about having a different last name from a child? - Mothering Forums
Blended and Step Family Parenting > Advice about having a different last name from a child?
nmouse's Avatar nmouse 11:20 PM 07-13-2011

Hi everyone. I am wondering if anyone can share experiences about how it is to have a different last name from your child. I will be having a baby this fall, and one of the options under consideration is giving the baby a last name different from mine. Before I decide, I'm trying to assess  what if any logistical problems this could present down the road.

For any of you that are differently surnamed from your kids, can you tell me where, if ever, you run into difficulties with third parties?

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


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



zebra15's Avatar zebra15 12:42 AM 07-14-2011

My son has my last name however its very common for kids to have all types of names.

I can answer some of your scenarios

1. when you register for 'school' you need to provide certain info. Usually a bc is one of those pieces of info.  Generally every year you need to fill out 'paperwork' but on a lesser level with name, contact etc.  Just list yourself as the emergency contact, mother etc.

2. traveling, you both will have ID, passport etc

3. dr- nothing different, you are the mother

4. insurance- the child is a dependent, you call HR and have the child added

5. again the child is a minor child you provide the ssn/ dob and the account is open, child is linked to you because you are his mother.


Springshowers's Avatar Springshowers 07:58 AM 07-14-2011

In Canada you can only give them one of the parents last names, or both names hyphenated. Any other change would have to be a later legal name change.


greenemami's Avatar greenemami 04:05 PM 07-14-2011

I have a different last name and have yet to run into any problems.  I don't have experience with school or any kind of travel that requires ID, but it has not been an issue with any doctor's office or health insurance.  I believe I had to "explain" why my kids had a diffferent last name than mine on the health insurance form, but I just wrote that they have their dad's name and it wasn't an issue.  Had no problem with joint bank accounts either.  I occasionally have to take an extra second to explain that we have different last names when signing up for something or scheduling appointments for both of us, but it has never been a problem. I think it is very common these days :)


littlest birds's Avatar littlest birds 04:49 PM 07-14-2011

Three of ours have a different last name and I've never had a practical problem...  sometimes people assume one thing or another so they just give the child my last name or call me Mrs. Xyz in error but it doesn't bother me at all.  Nothing else has ever come of it.


samstress's Avatar samstress 04:53 PM 07-14-2011

i have a different last name than my kids (4 years and 2 months) and it's never caused a problem.  i think it's so common nowadays, that no one really thinks anything of it. 

 

of all your bullet points, i've done all of them with my oldest (except the last one) without any trouble.  as for the joint account, dh and i share an account and have different last names.


olaz-b's Avatar olaz-b 05:01 PM 07-14-2011

We are in Canada and our DS does not have either mine or my DH's last name.  For various reasons, we chose my MIL's maiden name instead.  When we applied for his birth certificate, there was a question on there asking why he had a different last name than us.  The explanation is on his certificate, which means that whenever we need to prove anything legal, we just show it.  So far, we've had no problems.


VocalMinority's Avatar VocalMinority 05:15 PM 07-14-2011

I haven't experienced the slightest problem.  

 

I wasn't married to my oldest kids' (twins) father, but he wanted them to have his last name.  Everyone thought that was crazy for me to agree to - or even illegal!  

 

> Progressive friends thought, "Why would you GIVE them his name, if YOU'LL be the one raising them?"  Well, exactly.  There's no question about their connection to ME.  If having his name helps HIM feel connected to them, when they're babies and he really has no idea how to care for them...why NOT facilitate that?

 

> Conservatives (i.e. my parents) thought, "How can you 'pretend' they're not 'bastards', if they ARE?"  That seemed so short-sighted.  The problem was that we conceived kids together and just didn't know whether WE were going to "work out", long-term.  What we NAMED the kids was neither the root of - nor the solution to - that problem.

 

I do often get called "Mrs. (Ex's-last-name)", by people who know my kids better than they know me.  I think that irritates my ex's new wife [who really IS Mrs. (Ex's-last-name)], but she's reasonable about it.  It's an understandable mistake.  If I expect to form a relationship with someone (like the parent of one of my kids' new friends), I correct them.  If it's just somebody passing me in the hall, who knows I'm the twins' mom (and assumes I share their surname), I don't bother to correct them.

 

Almost without exception, people in a position to check, for example, who's allowed to pick up your kids from school, will KNOW you are their mom and it will never be an issue.  In cases where people DON'T know you're Mom, you still will not have a problem.  SO MANY kids these days have different last names from one of their parents.  It's just not an anomaly, by any stretch of the imagination.

 

I even have a friend who's married and their kids have different last names from both of them.  The husband has a really boring, super-common last name.  So the wife kept her maiden name, simply because she liked it.  And they invented a last name for the kids, that's a combination of their last names...because they don't like hyphens and double-surnames.  And everyone still knows who the kids' parents are.


nmouse's Avatar nmouse 06:19 PM 07-14-2011

Jeannine that is the same thing we are thinking of doing! I have been trying to get information about options, and in many places I have seen women posting about how they kept their birth name at first but are thinking of changing it to be the same as their child & child's father "to make things easier." I could never find very many specifics about what things would be easier, though one person mentioned hassles signing kids out from school with different names. But it sounds from the responses here like the hassles are way overblown, so I guess maybe the thing having same names makes easier for some folks is just psychological or family issues. 

 

Thanks everyone for the answers!


kawa kamuri's Avatar kawa kamuri 06:25 PM 07-14-2011

in sixteen+ years i've never had a problem.


Cyllya's Avatar Cyllya 07:04 AM 07-15-2011

You shouldn't have these problems. I mean, schools shouldn't be letting any random bloke abscond with a child just because their last name is the same, so you'd have to prove you're someone with permission to take the child anyway. 


XanaduMama's Avatar XanaduMama 11:13 AM 07-15-2011

Saw this on new posts. ds has dh's last name (mine as a second middle name) and dd has my last name. I've never had a problem with the names issue. If I traveled alone internationally with them, I might carry birth certificates, though mainly since I'm not a US citizen (and they are), which complicates things somewhat. I've heard of people having big problems with this recently, which is why it's on my radar. But otherwise, we don't give it a second thought--and nobody else seems to, either.

 

ETA: I've traveled alone with both of them domestically, and it's never been an issue.


mamayogibear's Avatar mamayogibear 08:56 PM 07-15-2011


Quote:
Originally Posted by littlest birds View Post

Three of ours have a different last name and I've never had a practical problem...  sometimes people assume one thing or another so they just give the child my last name or call me Mrs. Xyz in error but it doesn't bother me at all.  Nothing else has ever come of it.



Yeah that! Most people just call me Ms. child's last name, it's gotten to the point where I respond to that just as much as my real name. I wasn't married to their dad though, I just gave them his last name because I really don't like mine. Even though he's no longer my boyfriend their last name just seems right so I doub't I'll be changing it since they have a really cool last name...


aricha's Avatar aricha 08:48 PM 07-19-2011

I've never even had a problem with my step-daughter, whose last name is different than mine... I've never had an issue signing her up for things, signing her in and out of places (like camps or schools), or basically doing anything else that I ought to be able to do if she were my biological child. If I can think of any minor inconveniences, it is filling out a form that has everyone's name listed together because I have to specify whose last name is whose instead of just putting one last name... and sometimes the kids' stuff doesn't get filed together because they don't all have the same last name... but that is sort of a clerical issue, and one that most businesses have a system for overcoming because it is common. When I was in the position of registering kids for a program, I was in the habit of always double-checking both last names in case they were different. 

 

So no, there isn't really any real reasons why it has ever been an issue. All that said, I would love it if we all had the same last name... just because.


A&A's Avatar A&A 08:59 PM 07-19-2011

I've never had a problem. 


NYCVeg's Avatar NYCVeg 02:18 PM 07-20-2011

I've never had a problem--not with school, health insurance, anything. Honestly, this is so, so common that I can't imagine you'd have any difficulties. Around here (Northeastern US), no one assumes that my last name is the same as dh's. The only people who call me Mrs. HisLastName are telemarketers and a few of dh's elderly relatives who can't fathom the idea that a woman might not take her spouse's name!  


~PurityLake~'s Avatar ~PurityLake~ 08:32 PM 07-20-2011


Quote:
Originally Posted by nmouse View Post

Hi everyone. I am wondering if anyone can share experiences about how it is to have a different last name from your child. I will be having a baby this fall, and one of the options under consideration is giving the baby a last name different from mine. Before I decide, I'm trying to assess  what if any logistical problems this could present down the road.

For any of you that are differently surnamed from your kids, can you tell me where, if ever, you run into difficulties with third parties?

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


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

I never changed my surname when I married my husband, and our daughters have his last name. My feelings on that subject aside, I've never in 6 years, had any problems proving I'm their mother, not at the doctor, when applying for insurance, registering them for school, or applying for aid. I never needed to produce their birth certificates, although I do have them if that were necessary.
 

 


SilverFish's Avatar SilverFish 10:11 AM 07-21-2011

in my current province, it's actually very unusual to change your last name when you get married, and even requires extra steps to legally do so. there are literally thousands of kids running around with different last names than their mothers, and so i've never had even a moment of difficulty with it. the forms are all set up to allow for several different last names within a family. 

 

the only people that ever comment on our different last names is my own family, who appear to be absolutely horrified that i didn't change my last name (seriously! my sister makes a comment about it almost every time i see her) and some extended fam who still send me mail in my husband's name. legally, though, absolutely never a problem. in a situation where proving you are the mother is so important, proving you have the same last name isn't enough anyway ... you could be any relative or even a non-relative who happens to have the same name. 


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