How to Change a Baby's Last Name Legally

by Anna Assad
    You must have a legal relationship before you can change the baby's name.

    You must have a legal relationship before you can change the baby's name.

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    Changing your baby's name is typically a simple process if both parents agree to the new name. Exact state requirements for a child's name change differ by county, but you commonly have to file a petition in order to receive a name change order from a judge and provide proof of consent from both parents. You must have a legal relationship to the baby, such as a parent, foster parent or legal guardian, to file the name change petition on her behalf.

    Step 1

    Request consent from the baby's other parent. Although state procedures differ, all child name changes require consent or notice to the other parent, giving her a chance to block the change. Obtain her consent, if possible, to make the process easier.

    Step 2

    Visit your state legislature's official website. States typically have the laws, or directions on where to find the laws –– like a public library –– available online. Name change laws are typically found under the civil remedies and procedures sections of state laws. You want the legal requirements to change the name of a minor in your state.

    Step 3

    Visit the official website of your state's judicial system. Check each court type to see what cases are handled. Locate the court that processes name changes. Name change courts typically include county circuit and district courts.

    Step 4

    Contact the court clerk's office. Ask if you're permitted to file a name change for a baby, without an attorney, if the forms are available at the court and the filing fee amount. Some courts don't allow you to file a name change without an attorney.

    Step 5

    Get the name change forms. Go to the court if the forms are available there or to the place the court clerk directed you to. Forms vary by area, but you commonly need a petition and a consent form from the other parent. If your state laws require a public posting of your baby's name change, you'll also need a notice form. In that case, ask the court where in the building the notice change must be posted.

    Step 6

    Complete the petition. Formats vary by area, but you usually need the baby's name as shown on her birth certificate, where and when she was born, her proposed name, her current address and your name, address and relationship to her. Sign and date the form.

    Step 7

    Fill out the parental consent form. You typically need the baby's information from the petition and the name and address of the other parent. Ask the other parent to sign and date the consent in front of a notary for notarization.

    Step 8

    Bring the original petition, consent form and the fee payment back to court. File the papers. The clerk will tell you if a hearing is needed in your county or if the court will simply mail the signed name change order for your baby back to you.

    Tips & Warnings

    • Make sure you attend the hearing, if necessary, for your baby's name change. The judge can deny the change if you miss the hearing, and you might lose the filing fee you paid.
    • Changing the last name of your baby to the last name of the birth father might be a simpler process in your state. Contact the local health department for information on changing the birth certificate.
    • Visit the local Social Security office once you have a name change order or amended birth certificate to change the baby's name on her Social Security card.
    • If you can't get consent of the other parent, you might have to service notice of the petition on her personally. You may have to run a legal notice of the baby's name change in the classified legal section of a local newspaper and provide proof you ran the notice to the court.

    About the Author

    Anna Assad began writing professionally in 1999 and has published several legal articles for various websites. She has an extensive real estate and criminal legal background. She also tutored in English for nearly eight years, attended Buffalo State College for paralegal studies and accounting, and minored in English literature, receiving a Bachelor of Arts.

    Photo Credits

    • Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images