When life drifts harshly, you want to change many things in your life. Especially when you get divorced and you have to handle things on your own. With many other legal obligations, you would also want to know how to legally change a child’s last name. To make sure your children won’t get any issues when applying for a license or even a job, you have to take prompt action against changing their names.
To know how to change a child’s last name, you must contact the court to start the legal process. In many states, the family court handles and concludes all the cases related to a name change and in others, petitioners have to knock civil courts. Irrespective of which court sees your case, you must state the valid request like why you need to change a child’s last name legally.
For this, there are some legal steps that you have to go through to change your child’s name legally.
Steps to legally change a child’s last name
Step # 1: File a petition at family court
When you decide to change your child’s name, you must know your state’s family court requirement before filing a petition. Each state court has its fees and forms for a name change request form/petition. Get the form from your state court. Complete the required fields, gather the documents, and file the petition with the required fees to the country court clerk. If you are unable to pay the required fee for the petition, you may request a fee waiver.
You may also be asked to provide additional information and documents to support your request. If applicable, almost every state requires you to present your and your child (ren)’s criminal history.
The court also asks your child to sign another consent form if he/she is above a certain age.
Step # 2: Inform child’s other parent
It is also required to take the consent of the child’s other parent to sign the name change petition if he/she agrees to the decision. You also are obligated to inform the other parent about the request and court hearing. Prove the court that you have informed and have sent the copy of all the required documents to the other parent.
In some states, you have to post a legal announcement or the notification of a name change in the local newspaper and provide the court with the copy as evidence of publication. If any of the parents object to the name change of their child (ren), they have a good chance at the hearing to tell the court a reason for objection.
Step # 3: Attend the name change hearing
Based on your request and the circumstances related to your name change request, you may have to attend a court hearing which may not be scheduled in advance by the court. In this hearing, if your child’s other parent objects to the petition, the court clerk will give you another hearing date and time.
In the court hearing, the judge asks multiple questions to see if there’s a conflict of interest between the parents of a child or are they on the same page. If the request is in a good manner, and the case is straightforward, the court may accept the request. If there’s a conflict, both parents have to provide testimony.
The ruling of the case depends on the information provided at the request in advance and at the time of the hearing. If the judge accepts your name change request, he/she grants the order to change the name of the child provided by the court to the Social Security Administration along with your child’s doctor, bank, school, insurance company, and any other required personnel where your child’s previous last name is being used officially.
Above are the steps that one has to take if they want their child’s last name changed. To ease your suffering and your path, you must contact a family law attorney who knows the state laws and is licensed in your state.
How do I legally change my child’s last name?
You are required to visit your state’s family court or hire a family attorney to file a name change petition. You can also ask the court clerk to tell you about the local attorney who can help you.
What if I only have to change the spellings in my child’s birth certificate?
It is probably a minor human mistake that does not need legal involvement. Read about the amendments in the child’s name and fill the required application here.
How much would I have to pay to file a petition for a name change?
Every country and state has different rules and fee structures. To know about the fee, visit your local clerk’s office to know the expected fees for the case. If you cannot afford the fee, then you can request a fee waiver.
Why do I need to tell the other parent that I need to change the name?
Unless the parental rights of the other parent are terminated, you should notify the other parent about the petition. This is required because the court wants to know if the other parent has any disagreement or conflict about the request.
What if the other parent’s rights are terminated?
In case, the other parent’s parental rights are terminated and there’s no guardian or the managing conservator of the child, then use the instructions that your state law suggests. You may need to file some extra forms other than the name change petition.
What if I am the only parent mentioned in the child’s birth certificate?
Even if you have remarried or if you are the only one who is listed in the child’s birth certificate, the other parent must be served with the legal summon of the name change hearing.
What If the child’s other parent is dead?
In situations where the other parent is no more, then the same process will be applied when parental rights are terminated for the other parent.
What if I don’t know who my child’s father is?
If the identity of the legal father is hidden, you don’t want to disclose the name, or you don’t know who the father of your child is, then you must serve the legal notice on the name of an unknown father by having the legal notice published in the legal newspaper.
The process can be expensive, you may have to hire a family law attorney and talk to them about the child’s father/ mother identity before you file a petition or anything legally.
Where can I find information about name-changing laws?
Read the laws about the name-changing procedure by visiting your local clerk’s office or hire a family attorney for the purpose.
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