Child Development: Baby Names


Topend Kids > Development > Baby Names > Surnames

Traditionally, children in western countries such as the US, UK and Australia, have taken their father's last name and most married parents still follow this convention. However, this is not compulsory, and many mothers are now demanding an equal share in the naming rights.

(note: this info is for Australia, and may or may not apply elsewhere)

Although most children get their father's surname, the rules don't stipulate that. For the child's surname you can use the mother's surname, the father's surname, a combination of the two or any other surname.


The hyphenated name

This is where you give your child a hyphenated combination of you and your partner's surnames. This is OK if the names are fairly short, easy to spell and sound good together. Beware of burdening your child with a double-barrelled spelling challenge for life!

The mother's last name

In most States of Australia, a child born to unmarried parents will be registered with the mother's surname, unless both parents agree to the child being registered with the father's surname. It does not have to be associated with unmarried parents - some married mothers want their child to have their surname too.

The mother's last name as a middle name

There's a long history in some English and European cultures of giving a child her mother's maiden name as a middle name - a better alternative to the hyphenated surname.

The Compromise

If you and your partner can't agree on a surname, how about one each - boy babies get the father's name and girls get mum's, or vice versa? This is a viable option if you are going to have one of each (or two or more of each), but that never happens when you want to, right?

After Divorce

After divorce some parents may want their children to have their last name, especially if one of the parents isn't a part of the child's life anymore. You can apply to change your child's name, but as you need your child's dad's permission it is not always smooth sailing. If he doesn't agree, you'll need to make an application to the Family Law Courts. The court will then consider if it's in the best interest of the child to have their name changed.

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