Dr. Margaret Macaulay
Dear Mrs Macaulay,
I am currently eight months pregnant. The father of the baby and I are no longer together. I don't wish to give the baby his last name, and will give her mine. My question is, if I take him to court for child support and the baby does not have his last name, will the court still grant me child support?
Before I answer your question I feel constrained to ask if you have really thought about your plan.
Do you think that not giving your child her father's surname is the best thing for her? Or have you decided on this course in order to punish him?
You must do that which will be in your child's best interests. This should be the only reason for your decision. No other reason will suffice.
So assuming that you have thought fully and deeply about your decision, let me attempt to answer your question.
After the birth of your child, you can give the child your last name if you wish, or the dad's. Later, if you desire, the father's particulars can be added to the child's birth record. You may do as you wish to do regarding names, or if the dad signs the record at the time of registration and you also want to add your surname, that can be done. However, the surname added to the child's record would be seen as a middle name, or a hyphen can be placed to show a double-barrelled name.
This will not affect child support. However, you must bear in mind that if he does not appear on her birth certificate as her father, the issue of proof of paternity arises. So if he denies or does not admit to his paternity, then the court will have to order a DNA test. On receipt of the result that he is the father, the court will make an order that he contributes to the cost of your delivery and the birth costs and then set, based on your evidence of what your child needs, the figure that he should contribute of the total of maintenance needs. You will have to make future applications for variations of the order as your child grows bigger and her maintenance costs increase.
You must be prepared for the court, in making the maintenance order, to advise him that he can apply to have access to his child. This is generally done because of the necessity to encourage that a relationship between the non-caregiving parent and the child is nurtured.
You must apply at the time you apply for maintenance from the father, for an order for you to have sole custody, care and control of your child. Do not leave this out, because once it is proved that the man is the father of your child, he can apply for custody and if he gets joint custody with you, he will be entitled to make all important decisions with you about her life steps and circumstances. It is clear that you certainly do not want this to happen.
I hope I have clarified the position for you.
Good luck to you and your child.
Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. Mrs Macaulay cannot give personal advice.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.