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Dad Enraged After Ex-Wife Changes Their Child’s Last Name Because It Sounds Too ‘Phallic’

Engin_Akyurt / Pixabay

Co-parenting can be a difficult task to juggle. You’re trying to work with someone you’ve probably already agreed you don’t really work with.

However, Unlikely-Bunch2986 did her best to give her ex the benefit of a doubt. When things started going wrong, and a new opportunity presented itself.

Now, the original poster (OP) is stuck with her ex-spouse upset. She thinks she’s justified, but OP’s ex’s anger has her second guessing.

She decided to ask the “Am I the A**hole” subReddit about her decision.

“AITA for wanting to change my child’s phallic last name?”

And when she says it’s phallic, she means it.

“I (31F) share a son (9M) with my ex (35M). My son has my ex’s last name, which is Cox… except spelled like C***s. It’s an old English spelling, apparently.”

“My ex and I got divorced when my son was 18 months old. When it came down to splitting custody, I offered my ex a reasonable visitation schedule based on our son’s age. My ex declined it, stating he ‘gets bored with him’ and just wanted a 4 hour visit on Sunday mornings.”

“Quite often, my ex would call me halfway through the visit to ask me to come get our son so that he (my ex) could go hang out with friends. I would always go get my son, not wanting him to be in the middle of a bad situation or force my ex to keep him the full 4 hours if he truly didn’t want to.”

“My ex ended up moving out of state (about a 10 hour car ride away) and would typically ask for 2-3 visits per year, on MOST of which he would end up returning our son earlier than planned.”

“Just one example – he asked for a 10 day visit, and called 3 days into the visit asking me to come pick up our son because my ex was going on a trip with some friends to a casino for a few days. You get the idea – he hardly ever sees our child, and almost always returns him earlier than planned so he can go do his own thing.”

“Now that you have some context, here’s my dilemma. I got re-married in 2019, and took my wife’s last name. My son is to the age now where he’s starting to get confused why he doesn’t have the same last name as my wife and I.”

“We are also planning on having another child together, which will obviously take our last name as well. On top of this, with my son’s last name being so phallic, he’s been targeted by bullies at school ALREADY, even though he’s only 9 years old.”

“We’ve had issues with systems bouncing back the name as a swear word, too.”

“I approached my ex to ask if he’d be willing to let us change my son’s last name to ours, due to the above reasons. He declined, stating that ‘he shouldn’t have to deal with this disrespect’ and ‘it’s his right as a man to have offspring with his last name’ – when I asked him, ‘Okay, but what about the bullying?’ his response was, ‘He should learn to wear it like a badge of pride and you’re damaging him by telling him it’s okay to have a different name.’”

“At this point, he hasn’t seen our son in 3 years, calls about once a month for 5 minutes, and doesn’t take much interest in… well, just about anything to do with our son except this, apparently.

“He’s always been extremely prideful, bordering on narcissistic, but I need to do what’s best for my son. He keeps swearing up and down that this will be the downfall of their relationship, and it’ll be my fault.”

“So… honestly, Reddit. Am I the a**hole?”

OP feels like she’s being forced to choose between her son’s relationship with his father and making things easier for her child. At least, that’s how the ex-husband is portraying it.

On Reddit, the users of the board judged OP for wanting to change her son’s last name by including one of the following in their response:

  • NTA – Not the A**hole
  • YTA – You’re the A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everybody Sucks Here

OP has given her ex-spouse every opportunity to be someone meaningful in their son’s life. Without his presence, there’s not really a point to keep the last name.

Adding to that, the last name is so embarrassing, there really isn’t a good reason to keep it. The father at this point is clinging to the name for selfish reasons.

OP isn’t TA for wanting to change her son’s last name, and shouldn’t feel guilty about it.

“NTA, and in my opinion, if you can legally change your son’s name without the father’s input/permission, do it.” – ViolaofIllyria

“That’s the issue – technically I CAN change it if I can prove why it needs to be changed in front of a judge, but it’s a lot more work. There’s also the chance that the judge could deny it, although I would certainly hope they wouldn’t.” – Unlikely-Bunch2986 (OP)

“Bio dad is not involved, and probably wouldn’t even notice that your son’s last name was changed for a long time. If it’s affecting your son, do it.”

“I have a feeling you have fairly reasonable proof.” – DutyValuable


“‘Dad’ isn’t a dad at this point, he’s a DNA donor. Ask your son what HE wants, and do that.”

“Ex sounds like he’s looking for an excuse to permanently bail on your son. He sounds fairly worthless, so let him.” – HedgieTwiggles

“Change the name because your son already feels disowned by his original father; it’s not a badge, it’s a reminder of how horrible his father is; make your son feel included and enjoy his new family.” – Marcusbenson28

“For someone who doesn’t bother to play any active part in his son’s life, your ex has a lot to say regarding this.”

“NTA. You’ve done the polite thing, which is ask. If you can legally change it without his input, go ahead!” – SleepDangerous1074

“NTA. If his only interest in his son is the fact that his last name is being carried on then do what you feel you need to do. He’s not a father. He hasn’t seen him in three years.”

“I’d go to court with documentation on just how much contact he’s had with his son since his birth and maybe start the process to allow your wife to adopt him. Then change his last name and save the poor kid, from bullying and from association to a deadbeat a**hole.” – PeteyPorkchops

Of course, things aren’t always so simple to handle. Since the ex pays child support and is at least somewhat involved in the boy’s life, OP says she does need his permission to change the son’s name.

As it stands, she has to petition the court to get the name changed.

“NTA. Can you go to court to get full custody based on your ex abandoning his son? Maybe talk to a lawyer about adoption options.”

“If your DF adopts him, your way may be easier to change the name.” – hetkleinezusje

“That’s an option. My ex does pay child support, though.”

“From what I’ve been told, that makes it much more difficult to get full custody, even if he hardly sees/talks to him.” – Unlikely-Bunch2986 (OP)

“Document everything, each email, each message, each time he didn’t take your son for the agreed time, etc. Judges loves details like these in custody fights.” – Average-Joe78

“Custody and child support have nothing to do with each other in most jurisdictions.”

“Can you live without the child support? If so, I would go for termination of parental rights and get your son adopted by your wife, no more child support or contact from the ex.”

“Is your son suffering emotionally from all of this? I can’t imagine that the total lack of stability within the ‘father’/son relationship is good for him.” – kindofcolorado

“NTA. Check the laws where you live. The custodial parent can petition the court for the name change.”

“I think you have a reasonably good supporting argument for it being in the best interest of the child considering the new family structure.”

“There is also a lot more sensitivity to protecting children from being bullied so the name itself as a source of negative attention for the child could also be considered.” – Salcha_00

But one thing that helps through this negativity, are supportive comments.

“***Edit: Wow, I didn’t expect this amount of feedback. Even if I didn’t respond specifically to every comment, please know that I have combed through and read EACH AND EVERY one.”

“Thank you SO much to everyone who took the time to respond to my situation and help me. I truly appreciate it.”

“Some (not many, but a few) people seem to think this has something to do with me resenting my ex – I can assure you, I don’t resent my ex. That may be surprising, given everything I’ve said about him, but I don’t.”

“I truly am just doing the best I can with the situation at hand and want what’s best for my son. Again, thank you to everyone who cared enough to give a thoughtful reply. It means a lot.”

Here’s hoping things go a little better for OP.

Written by Ben Acosta

Ben Acosta is an Arizona-based fiction author and freelance writer. In his free time, he critiques media and acts in local stage productions.