Home > Ask Our Experts > Do I Have a Say in the Surname My Child is Given?

Do I Have a Say in the Surname My Child is Given?

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 19 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Parental Responsibility Unmarried


My girlfriend and I have recently split up. It was a mutual decision on both are halves as we thought it the best thing to do.

She's currently 6 months pregnant. I've paid for her to move into a new house and given her financial support well beyond what is required. I'm so looking forward to being a father, but she has just told me that I will have no say in the name and our daughter will have her surname. Can you tell me where I stand legally?

many thanks D
(D.L, 9 July 2009)


Unmarried fathers can be in for a shock when it comes to their lack of parental rights. An unmarried father does not have any right to insist on the surname of their child, no matter how much financial support he provides. If the mother does agree then the child can have the father’s surname but only if she gives consent to this and the couple register the birth together. However, this does not mean that unmarried fathers cannot gain a say in the child’s upbringing or having their name on the birth certificate.

Unmarried Fathers and Parental Responsibility

Applying for parental responsibility (PR) will give unmarried fathers a number of parental rights recognised by the law. By obtaining parental responsibility the unmarried father has an equal say in the child’s upbringing in much the same way as a married couple share responsibility. This means that there is a legal duty for both parents to consult each other when it comes to major decisions on the child’s upbringing. These major decisions include change of surname, changing schools, major operations, and removing the child from a country for more than one month.

Unmarried Fathers and Children’s Surnames

If an unmarried father is not named on the birth certificate then he can apply to have birth re-registered to include his name on the birth certificate. The father can only do this if he has parental responsibility. If the father does have parental responsibility then re-registering can be undertaken even without the mother’s consent. This service is free of charge but there will be a fee for obtaining copies of the birth certificate.

Obtaining Parental Responsibility

There are a number of ways for unmarried fathers to obtain parental responsibility. These can include registering the birth with the mother for births after 2003; this will give automatic parental responsibility. Another route is to obtain parental responsibility with the mother’s agreement and have it witnessed in court. If the mother refuses to make an agreement and will not add the father’s name to the birth certificate then the father can apply to the court for a PR order.

There are differences in applying for parental responsibility in England and Scotland. More information on parental responsibility orders can be found at Her Majesty’s Court Services website.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Wlfred
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    Hi, me and my ex bought a house together We put down the same amount of deposit but I have been making all the mortgage payments…
    16 January 2021
  • Tweety
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    Hey me and a (guy)friend has a joint bond and living together became a nightmare as his not working anymore I'm 27 and his 57 he…
    28 December 2020
  • Kellyjayne
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    Hello, My husband left me at the start of lockdown and we have an 8 month old son. He moved out of the home we both own soon…
    30 November 2020
  • Withheld
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    Hi Me and my partner separated 18 years ago now and myself and my 2 kids lived in the house. We were never married but the house…
    19 November 2020
  • Ramos
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    Me and wife separated, we do have house under our both name we have two children one 16 and one 13. They do live with her at the…
    29 October 2020
  • Michelle
    Re: Buy Out The Mortgage From Your Ex
    My husband and I are separating he wants to buy out my share of the house. He has sought financial advice and we are…
    27 October 2020
  • Ash
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    My ex partner had me arrested to get me out of our home and lied to police. Since I haven’t been back to the home however I have…
    21 October 2020
  • Harbo
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    My ex partner has been renting out our ex home together as we are both living with new partner's in different homes. I’m wanting…
    7 October 2020
  • Marlene
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    Good evening. My fiance was married in community of property. The house is in joint names as per divorce settlement wife must…
    6 October 2020
  • T.i.oakley
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    I have a morgage half buy half rent my ex partner is on the papers but he has been left 12 years and dont know where he is I…
    6 October 2020