The laws and process for changing the name of a minor vary greatly between states, so the information below is only of a general nature. Any submission or process in changing your child’s name may be different from the information below.
There are countless reasons for changing a child’s name, some popular ones include bringing a child into a new family, removing the name of an absent parent, changing the spelling or order of names, or because the child simply does not like their name. If the child is mature enough to understand the implications of the name change, their permission or opinion may be required by the court.
The process is similar to an adult name change. Contact your county’s clerk of court and request the form to change the name of a minor (this is referred to as a petition). Complete the petition in full as missing information may result in your application being slowed or rejected. You will need to disclose family and educational history and more. You shouldn’t be required to publish any notice in a newspaper due to privacy. Pay the court fee when you file the petition with the court. You’ll be given a hearing date which may be immediate or several months away.
Who must submit the name change?
All parties with legal responsibility to the child must agree to the name change. In most cases, this is the two parents as listed on the child’s birth certificate, or it may be the adoptive parent/s or the minor’s legal guardian. If only one person is legally responsible for the child then they may submit the application themselves without consent of other parties.
If the other parent is still responsible for the child
If both parents agree to the name change then it is a very straightforward process. Both parents may need to sign the child’s name change petition, or else the second parent may have signed or consented in a different way that the courts approve of. Many states allow only one parent to file for a legal name change for a minor, but you may be required to send a document detailing the intended name change to the second parent. Where a parent genuinely cannot be reached and you have proof of this, the court may rule in the best interest of the child.
What about absent or non-consenting parents?
If the courts have previously declared one parent not legally responsible for the child, their permission is not required. You will need to show a court document that proves this. If you no longer have that document approach the court where that decision was made and ask for it to be reissued.
If a legally responsible parent refuses the name change, they have a legal right to object to the name change proceeding with the court. Their reasoning will be considered by the judge. In most states, the judge’s decision will be based on the best interest of the child.
You may currently be involved in a legal case for custody, child support or parentage. If you plan to change the child’s name it is best to have the child’s name change included in that hearing.
Questions? Need advice?
Our service does assist with the preparation and filing of name change petitions for minors. We provide company-specific name change information and forms. As children typically have few organizations to notify of a name change our kits are therefore not suitable for children. Easy Name Change does provide any further information regarding changing a child’s name. Basic information about changing the name of a minor in your state may be available online, so you may start with a Google search. For absolute advice, it is always recommended you speak with the clerk of court or an appropriately qualified professional. A great free service for legal questions is AVVO.
We are unable to provide any further information on legal name change beyond what appears on this page. Easy Name Change are not legal professionals and the above information is of a general nature only. Please do not contact us about changing a child’s name as we are unable to assist.