The Mother M and the father F conceive a child C. F leaves M and leaves the country before the birth of C. Subsequently, M marries a different person, H. A paternity test shows that F is the biological father.

Under US law, under which conditions would the last name of H be listed on the birth certificate? Does F have any say in this?

  • 1
    I removed the child-support tag which does not appear relevant to the question as it stands. The phrase "US law" should be made more specific, as questions about names and birth certificates are almost certainly covered by state law, not federal. Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 14:36
  • 2
    The question fails to specify whether the child C is before or after H and M are married. Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 15:41
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    It sounds like there is a question buried here and not recognized about how paternity determinations work in U.S. law.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Oct 24, 2022 at 1:24

1 Answer 1


Under US law, there is no requirement for a child to have the same last name as the legal father, the biological father, or the mother. Initially the last name is specified on the birth certificate, often taken from the name of the listed father, but that is not required. But the name can be changed at any time, by a custodial parent or guardian while the child is minor, and later by the child directly.

  • Is that the case for all 50 states? It seems plausible that one or two states might have such requirements.
    – nick012000
    Commented Oct 24, 2022 at 8:29
  • @nick012000 I do not think there is such a requirement in any US state. Commented Oct 24, 2022 at 21:28
  • "Does F have any say in this?" Certainly not if the father is absent. The decision on the name is made by the mother alone, at a minimum, if she is the only parent available to the hospital administrator preparing the birth certificate for the vital records department of the government.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Mar 31, 2023 at 18:39
  • @nick012000 I agree with David Siegel that there is no such U.S. state.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Mar 31, 2023 at 18:39

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