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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Saturday, 26.05.2018, 11:05

Choosing surname for a child in Latvia

Irina Papakule, lawyer of the Law office INLAT PLUS, Riga, 11.05.2012.Print version
Question: I’m pregnant from a man I do not intend to marry. He wants a child to have his surname, which is unacceptable to me due to many reasons. First of all I’m concerned that a family shall have the same surname. The family, however, is my children and me. Furthermore, we already have one child who has my surname and therefore I’m sure that a brother and a sister shall share the same surname considering they will go to same school and further in life will spend a lot of time together. Is father entitled to give his surname to the second child? What should I do in order to prevent it? Will this be decided in his or my favor when we come to register the baby?

Answer: Pursuant to Section 29 of the Law on “Acts of civil status” a surname of a child shall be recorded in accordance with surname of the parents. If parents have different surname a child will be given either mother’s or father’s surname according to agreement of the parents or subject to the decision of the Orphan’s court.


It follows from the said section that if you admit the man as father of your child, he shall have the right to give his surname to his child. If upon registering the baby you will fail to agree on which surname to choose, the Office of Civil Registration will direct you to the Orphan’s court.

Pursuant to the law on “Orphan’s courts”, the main obligation of the orphan’s court is to protect the rights and interests of a child. According to Section 19, Paragraph 1 of the Law on “Orphan’s courts”, upon failure of parents to agree the orphan’s court shall decide on recording of surname, name or nationality of a child.


Therefore both parents shall apply to Orphan’s court with an application to resolve the dispute regards the child’s surname. In their applications parents shall specify the reasons for a child to have certain surname. Court sitting may be scheduled in 1 to 4 months.


Your arguments will be considered by the orphans’ court and possibly the decision will be in your favour. Similar cases, however, are quite rare because of the long procedure which is usually the reason for parents to somehow find an appropriate solution themselves. The parents shall think of the child’s interests in the first place. Throughout the whole procedure a child will be unregistered, without certificate and surname. It is impossible to apply for child’s benefit, mother’s benefit without certificate of birth. Therefore before taking any steps with the orphan’s court it would be wise to think of the child.


Law office INLAT PLUS

Brivibas 40-15, Riga

+371 67505970

+371 26403577

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