• According to the Law: Nullifying Admission of Paternity

    Acknowledgement of paternity allows a child to use his father's last name. What happens when those ties are voided?
    by Atty. Nikki Jimeno .
  • paternity

    Q:

    Dear Smart Parenting,

    I have a 4-year-old son who carries his father’s last name even if we were not married, because my partner signed the affidavit of acknowledgement / admission of paternity in the birth certificate.

    My boyfriend and I have parted ways years ago and we haven’t heard from him since or received any support. Thus I don’t see the point of my son still using his surname. Is there a way to nullify the affidavit of acknowledgement / admission of paternity? What steps can I do so that my son would carry my last name and not his father's?

    Maebel

     

    A:

    Dear Maebel,

    I am sorry to hear about your situation. I admire your perseverance and strength in raising your son alone, and I understand why you would want to “erase” any links between your son and his father, so that you can finally move on.

    However, I would not recommend nullifying the acknowledgment/admission of paternity, because the purpose of this acknowledgment, aside from allowing the child to use the father’s last name, is to also establish paternity and filiation and show that the child, while illegitimate, still has rights, such as the right to receive support and to inherit from his father. If you nullify the acknowledgment of paternity, then you are in effect taking these rights away from your son; or at the very least, you are making it harder for him to enforce these rights.

    But don’t lose hope. You can still file a petition on behalf of your son to have his name changed. But as I mentioned in a previous article, the Courts are very strict when it comes to change of surnames (especially when made on behalf of minors), and the petition is granted only on certain grounds.

    Related story: According to the Law: Changing a Minor’s Surname

    In your case, you can allege that changing the surname of your son from the father’s to your own will help your child avoid the embarrassment of carrying the stigma of illegitimacy, especially since the father is no longer an active part of his son’s life. In every case including children, the best interest of the child is always and foremost the paramount consideration of the Court. If you can show that the change of name is the best thing for your son, then the Court may allow it.  

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    Atty. Nikki Jimeno

    Image from childandfamilypolicy.duke.edu

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