Does a Child Always Take on the Last Name of the Father?
Tennessee Family Law Questions & Answers · 10 minutes ·

Does a Child Always Take on the Last Name of the Father?

Courts will not change a child’s last name unless the change promotes the child’s best interest.  When considering the child’s best interest, the following factors must be used by the court:

  • The child's preference
  • The change's potential effect on the child's relationship with each parent
  • The length of time the child has had its present name
  • The degree of community respect associated with the present and proposed name
  • The difficulty, harassment, or embarrassment that the child may experience from bearing either its present or its proposed name

Both parents can agree to the change of the child’s last name.  In such a case, the name will usually be changed by the court without having to present any evidence.  However, where no agreement can be reached, the parent seeking to change the child's last name has the burden of proving that the change will further the child's best interests.  Since the birth certificate of a child born to an unmarried mother reflects that the child’s last name is that of the mother, that person is usually the father. 

The only way to effect a change in the child’s last name from the name as it appears on the birth certificate, is by court order.

If you desire to have the name of your child changed to the last name of the father, or if you do not want to have your child’s last name changed, it is important to be prepared to present evidence to the court to support your position.

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