Hyphenated last names in paternity cases

Hyphenated last name in paternity casesWhen parents have children out-of-wedlock and they either split up or not going to remain together, a paternity case is usually almost inevitable.  A paternity case is what many attorneys generically call a child custody and support case between unmarried parents.

In these cases, the court has to decide physical and legal custody of the minor child.  In other words, the court needs to know on what days of the week, including summers and holidays, the child will be with one parent or the other parent.  As to legal custody, the court has to decide who gets to make decisions regarding the upbringing of the child.

The court in these cases also has to decide how child support is going to work.  In other words, who is paying child support to who?  And, in addition to that, who is going to pay for health care, educational and extracurricular costs for the child and in what percentages?

Another hotly contested issue in many of these cases is the last name of the minor child.  Does the child get the last name of the father or the mother?  Ultimately, the laws can vary by state and different judges might focus on different criteria.

As a general rule, the younger the child is, the more likely the last name will be that of the father.  This is especially true if the child hasn’t started school yet.  On the other hand, if the father waits to file the paternity case until after the child has started school, or the court is not confident the father is going to remain in the life of the child, the court could find it in the best interests of a child to have the mother’s last name.

An increasing compromise position in paternity cases is to hyphenate the last name.  In an increasing number of cases, the court will take the mother’s and father’s last name and hyphenate it.  Many courts are also encouraging this as potential settlement in cases.

Of course, in many cases, this still leaves one or both parents unhappy.  Nonetheless, this trend has been slowly on the rise in many family courts.

If you are looking for a paternity lawyer, Stange Law Firm, PC in Missouri and Illinois can help.  Call 1-855-805-0595.



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