Name Change for a Child
Legal name changes can be a challenging process, especially in the case of children. Anyone seeking a name change under the age of 17, will have to have the approval of a parent or legal guardian. It is important to note if you are wanting to change your child’s last name to that of your current spouse or partner, this is in no way a legal adoption. In the filing of a name change for a child, you will have to fill out all of the paperwork involved in a name change of an adult, including a Name Change Petition and Proposed Order.
Minor Name Change
Either parent can file for the petition. Although if there is another living biological parent or legal guardian, a written permission from those parties must be given to the court. This is known as their consent. Although if the parental rights have been terminated, an attach copy of proof of this termination must be given to the courts when filing. If the other parent or legal guardian cannot be located, appropriate steps to locate them must be completed. A Notice to a Non-Petitioning Parent will be sent out, giving them the right to be properly notified and approve or deny the possible name change. A judge will want to see proof of your attempt to contact the party not present before giving their final ruling on your child’s name change.
A judge will decide on whether the name change is in the child’s best interest. Stating the reason for your child’s name change is of vital importance. Having a lawyer involved can help you word the petition correctly, and avoid having your child’s name change denied.
Once the name change petition is received, the judge assigned to the case will evaluate all of the information received and make a ruling in favor or denial of the request based on the following:
- If the child is of a reasonable age, the wants of the child will be taken into consideration. Many times children at the age of 14 and above are considered to be of sound mind to have a say in the matter.
- The relationship of the child with each parent
- How long the child has had their legal name
- If the present and/or new name has caused or will cause embarrassment, harassment or any other reasonable life changing issues
- The incentives, interests or motivation of the parents
A child’s name change can be a daunting process, but by retainer an attorney that is experienced the ins and outs of the legal system can help maximize the chances of having a successful petition and avoiding common pitfalls. Hiring an attorney can relieve some stress and uncertainly, and ensure you are going through all the right avenues for your child’s name change.