What surname child will be given if mother and father cannot compromise on it? Let's say woman kept her surname after marriage.Child was born and now both want this child to carry their surnames. They do not want double surname and don't agree on that (e.g sounds weird , etc). What happens to a child's surname in this case? How would this be resolved?

I am talking primarily about US.

  • 4
    It depends on the jurisdiction. Are you interested in a particular jurisdiction?
    – phoog
    May 7, 2018 at 21:33

3 Answers 3


There's a lot of variation from country to country, and in the United States, from one state to the next. Even in a single state, the rules can change depending on other factors, like when the dispute arises and whether the parents are married.

Unsurprisingly, the laws here in the United States tend to favor the use of the father's name, but again, these can be very fact-specific. There was a law review article several years back summarizing the interstate variations in child naming laws that might be helpful: Naming Baby: The Constitutional Dimensions of Parental Naming Rights, 80 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 159 (2011).

  • why father's name? is mother in any legal way carries less responsibilities upon a child?
    – YohanRoth
    May 9, 2018 at 18:39
  • Because America and its legal system are largely patriarchal. For most of our history, women's interests have been secondary to those of men, de jure or de facto.
    – bdb484
    May 9, 2018 at 18:56

BIRTHS, DEATHS AND MARRIAGES REGISTRATION ACT 1995 (NSW) s 22 says you go to the District Court and they resolve the dispute as they see fit.


Swedish law has it that if the parents do not have the same surname, the child acquires the last name of the most-recently born sibling with those same parents. If there is no such sibling, it is determined by the name that the child is registered with with the tax authorities, within 3 months: that name may be the name that one of the parents took before (this) marriage. But if there is no such notification to the tax man, the child takes the mother's birth name. So it depends on jurisdiction.

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