When two people get married, it’s common for one spouse to take the last name of the other. If they go on to start a family, the children will assume the last name of their parents. Upon divorce, it’s also common for the spouse who changed their name to return to the original. But what about a child? What if you also want to change his or her name?
If both parents agree to the name change
Every request for a name change, including one for a minor child (under 18 years of age), begins with filing a petition with the court in the county where you live. As the person filing the petition for name change, you will also have to submit your fingerprints – a background check is required, unless you are reverting the child’s name to one they previously held. If the other parent agrees to the change, they must submit a signed consent form to the court. When both parents agree, the court will nearly always approve the change.
If one parent objects to the change
Following a divorce, you and your ex-spouse may not be on the best of terms. Even if you have good reason to change your child’s name, the other parent may object. If this happens, you’ll need to request a hearing with the court. You must also notify the other parent of your intent to change the child’s name, so they may appear at the hearing if they so choose.
If you know where the other parent lives, they must be personally served. If you don’t know where they live, service may done constructively – such as a notice in the newspaper. Proper service is not something you’re likely familiar with, so get the help of an experienced professional to ensure it’s done properly. Once you’ve fulfilled all the requirements, the court will hold a hearing and weigh the arguments by both parents. The court will then make a decision based upon what is in the best interest of the child.