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More About Child Name Changes

This section gives you information about legally changing a child's name by court order.

Read Name Change Basics first before reading this section.

 

A Child's Name Change

A child is 17 years old or younger. A child is sometimes called a "minor" in court and on court papers.

You can ask the court to change a child’s name if you are the child’s biological or adoptive parent, the child’s legal guardian or next friend. A name change is not as adoption.

Changing your child’s name to your spouse’s or domestic partner’s name will legally change your child’s name, but it will not legally make your spouse or domestic partner your child’s parent. For example, if your child is from a previous relationship and you now change your child’s last name to your current spouse’s name, your spouse will NOT be your child’s legal parent. The only way to do this is to do an adoption.

 

Reason for Name Change

You must give the Judge a reason that you want to change the child’s name so the Judge can decide if the name change is in the child’s best interest. If the Judge doesn’t find that it is in the child’s best interest then the name change request will be denied. The Judge will consider several facts, including:

  • what the child wants, keeping in mind the child’s age and experience;
  • what the name change may do to the child’s relationship with each parent;
  • how long the child has used the name;
  • any problems, embarrassment, or harassment that the child may have from the present or new name; and
  • the motives or interests of the parents.

 

Other Parent’s Consent

Either parent can start the name change case. If there is another living biological or adoptive parent, or legal guardian, that parent or legal guardian must also give permission in writing to ask the court to change the child’s name. This is called consent.

If the other parent’s parental rights have been terminated, you do not need a consent. You can attach proof of the termination to the Petition.

If you can’t get consent in writing from the other parent because you do not know where he or she lives, you must take steps to locate him or her. If you can’t find the other parent, your name change request must tell the Judge why the other parent is not available and what you have done to contact the other parent.

If you can’t get consent from the other parent or legal guardian and you know his or her last address you will have to notify the other parent or legal guardian to give him or her a chance to tell the court why he or she objects to the name change. You need a Notice to Non-Petitioning Parent.

If the other parent is less than 18 years old you need permission in writing from the other parent’s parent or guardian.

 

Child’s Consent

Many Courts require a child who is 14 years or older, but less than 18, to give his or her permission for the name change. The child must sign the Minor Consent form in front of a Notary and you must give it to the Clerk with your Petition.

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