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Baby Names Debate: Should Parents Make Up Surnames?

It's not uncommon for parents-to-be to have a list of baby names ready to go long before delivery day, like Michaela Anne or Xander Lee. Pairing first and middle names together lets your creativity shine and is a great way to honor a beloved relative's name.

But what about the baby's surname? For a married couple sharing the same last name, the answer is simple: have the baby follow suit. But what about parents who don't share the same surname or if one partner has a hyphenated last name? And to throw a curve ball into the mix, what do you do when both parents have hyphenated surnames? Naming your new baby just got more challenging!

Check the law

A young family in Tennessee learned the hard way about naming laws in their state. Just days after Kim Sarubbi and Carl Abramson brought their third child home from the hospital, the married couple received a document from the vital records office that said the baby's surname, Sabr, was not valid since it didn't match the mother's and father's last names.

In the state of Tennessee, it's illegal to create a new surname for a child, except when the surnames of the two parents are hyphenated together. However, when the couple lived in California, where their first two children were born, they were allowed to name them using a creative combination of letters from both of their surnames to create a unique last name.

The takeaway? While brainstorming endearing first and middle name combinations, discuss what surname you wish to use for your future child. If you want to explore beyond either parent's name, check your state's laws.

Ideas and tips

As you make lists of potential first, middle and last baby names, think beyond what sounds nice when spoken aloud. Will the three initials spell an embarrassing or inappropriate word? Will the baby's surname fit into the family lineage or confuse future genealogy searches? Is the name incredibly long and complicated for the child to learn how to spell?

Did you get creative with your baby's surname? Tell us in the comments below why and how you named your child.