Hyphenated Last Names: My Boyfriend and I Are Having a Baby and He Insists His Name Must Come First

A mom writes in asking for advice. She and her boyfriend are going to have a baby! Yay! But she says her boyfriend refuses to get married and absolutely insists that, when it comes to hyphenated last names, the man’s name must come first. Is that true?

Over on the Mamas Uncut Facebook page, our robust community of moms is always having a conversation about topics that matter. We like to highlight those conversations from time to time. Important mom questions. Thoughtful mom answers. Let’s hear from the community!

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A member of the community asks:

My boyfriend and I are expecting our first child together. Well, he has said before that he doesn’t believe in marriage and doesn’t see the point.

Well, we are discussing names, and I said I want the last name hyphenated. He said it’s always the man’s name first, and I said “Why can’t it be the other way around?”

He said “that’s just how it goes.” So my question for all you mamas: If your child’s last name is hyphenated, is the man’s last name ALWAYS first?


I think some of y’all didn’t read my question all the way. We already agreed to hyphenate the last name. My question is does it matter whose last name is first? Also, whether I do get married down the line to him or not, I will hyphenate my last name. The North last name will be gone if it doesn’t get used for my child. My parents had 3 girls. My two sisters don’t want kids and never plan on having them. Mind you it doesn’t mean they won’t but still. The last name WILL be hyphenated. Question is my last name first or his. It shouldn’t matter.

Mamas Uncut Community Member

Let’s see what the community had to say.

The Man’s Last Name Can Come First


“I would hyphenate for sure. I would go: dad’s name – mom’s name.”

Your Last Name Should Come First


“No. Most often the father’s name is last.”

“It’s supposed to be maiden name first then the ‘married’ name, which would be his. So the baby’s first name, middle, then your last name with a – then his last name.”

“My daughter has my maiden name, then her dad’s last name.”

“My maiden name was hyphenated and my mother’s last name was first. It was not supposed to be but the hospital had a screw-up and did it that way. Anyone I have ever met with a hyphenated last name always has the mother’s name first.”

“Mother’s name goes first. Just like when a woman adds on her husband’s name, the maiden name comes first. When I got adopted as an adult, my new birth certificate had my adoptive parents’ last name and then my married name. I only go by my married last name, but just giving you more information about it.”

Consider Just Using Your Last Name


“No marriage, your last name.”

Go With What You Want


“I would go with whatever sounds better.”

“Do what you want since he doesn’t want to marry you in order to give his child his name.”

In Conclusion


This one’s pretty easy: OP, your boyfriend is wrong! For one thing, there are no hard and fast rules about whose name comes first in a hyphenated last name. You can do whatever works best for your family.

And then: Traditionally, the mother’s last name (or maiden name) comes before the father’s. So not only is your boyfriend wrong in insisting it be that way, he is not even correct about it being “how it goes.” Because historically, it goes the opposite way. So let him know he’s got his facts wrong, and make your decision from there.

We wish you the best of luck, mama!

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