Nebraska Revised Statute 71-640.03
Birth certificate; surname of child.
(1) In any case in which paternity of a child is determined by a court of competent jurisdiction, the surname of the child may be entered on the record the same as the surname of the father.
(2) The surname of the child shall be the parents' prerogative, except that the department shall not accept a birth certificate with a child's surname that implies any obscene or objectionable words or abbreviations.
- Laws 1994, LB 886, § 11;
- Laws 1996, LB 1044, § 544;
- Laws 2007, LB296, § 441.
Under subsection (1) of this section, a district court, exercising jurisdiction in a paternity action, has discretionary power to decide whether a child's surname should be changed to the surname of the father. Under the plain language of subsection (1) of this section, after paternity is established by a district court, the district court has the discretion to decide only paternity-related issues, i.e., whether to change the child's previous surname to the father's surname. Pursuant to subsection (1) of this section, in a paternity action, a court, in deciding whether a child's surname should be changed to the father's surname, must consider the best interests of the child regarding a change of name. Jones v. Paulson, 261 Neb. 327, 622 N.W.2d 857 (2001).
Under former law, a court, exercising jurisdiction in a filiation proceeding, has the discretionary power to decide whether a child's surname shall be changed from the legal surname of the child's mother to the surname of the child's father, and must consider the best interests of the child regarding a change of name. Lancaster v. Brenneis, 227 Neb. 371, 417 N.W.2d 767 (1988).
Under former law, determination as to the name to be borne by a minor child of parties to a dissolution action is a matter initially entrusted to the sound discretion of the trial judge, which matter, on appeal, will be reviewed de novo on the record and affirmed in the absence of an abuse of the trial judge's discretion, keeping in mind that the Supreme Court will give weight to the fact that the trial judge observed and heard the witnesses and accepted one version of the facts rather than the other. Cain v. Cain, 226 Neb. 203, 410 N.W.2d 476 (1987).
Under former law, in deciding what the surname of a child conceived in wedlock but born during dissolution proceedings should be, each subsection of this section should be given equal weight, with the best interests of the child as the paramount interest. Each parent has an equal right and interest in determining the surname of the child. Cohee v. Cohee, 210 Neb. 855, 317 N.W.2d 381 (1982).