Paternity cases: what’s in a name?

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in paternity on Monday, April 1, 2019.

When two unmarried parents decide to end their relationship, it is still necessary to make legal provisions for the support and custody of their children, just as it is to make similar provisions for the children of married parents who decide to divorce. It is common for attorneys to refer to the former type of proceeding as a paternity case. We at Stange Law Firm know that, as a father involved in a paternity case in Kansas, you probably have many questions regarding how the legal arrangements pertaining to the split will affect your children and your relationship with them.

One question you may have that may cause an issue between you and your former partner pertains to your child’s last name. The question that often arises is whether the child will bear your last name or that of his or her mother.

It is becoming more common for courts to compromise by ordering that the child bear both your last name and the mother’s last name hyphenated together. Such an order may help to settle the case more easily. If hyphenation is off the table, however, the younger your child is, the more likely he or she is to end up bearing your last name. However, if your child is old enough to have already started school, the court is more likely to give him or her the mother’s last name.

You can increase the likelihood of your child bearing your last name, whether alone or hyphenated with the mother’s, by establishing a close relationship with your child and taking an active interest in maintaining the relationship after your split. If the court has reason to believe that you will not maintain a significant presence in your child’s life, it is less likely to bestow your name upon him or her. More information about paternity cases is available on our website. 

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