Mother being the natural guardian can decide child’s surname: Supreme Court of India 

The Supreme Court recently ruled out that a mother can surname her second husband’s name to her child second husband after the death of the biological father of the child. There is nothing unusual in a mother upon remarriage giving the child the surname of her husband. 

The bench of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Krishna Murari overturned an Andhra Pradesh High Court decision ordering a mother to change her child’s surname and refer to her new husband in records as ‘stepfather.’

“After the demise of a woman’s first husband, being the only natural guardian of the child we fail to see how the mother can be lawfully restrained from including the child in her new family and deciding the surname of the child,” said a bench of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Krishna Murari.

The court was hearing an appeal against the January 24, 2014 judgment of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, which had asked that the child’s surname be restored and that the deceased husband’s name be shown as his natural father in the records. It is not possible to refer to the new husband as a stepfather.

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“Name is important for a child and the difference in name from his family will serve as a constant reminder of the fact of adoption and will expose the child to unnecessary questions and disturb the smooth and natural relationship between him and his parents. Indeed it is important to rule out a verdict upon the issue,” said SC. “ We see nothing unusual in the appellant mother, upon remarriage, having given the child the surname of her husband or even giving the child for adoption to her husband,” Supreme Court’s statement read.