A parent can change the name of her child in Virginia through the Virginia circuit court of the county the child resides in. If both parents agree to the name change, the process is relatively easily and requires a signed application and a visit to the circuit court. The parents do not have to state the reason for changing the child's name on the application, but the name change must be in the child's best interests under Virginia law.
Visit the Virginia circuit court of the child's county. Bring a certified copy of the child's birth certificate with you. Ask the clerk for the application for Change of Name (Minor) and the Order for Change of Child's Name forms.
Fill out the top half of the Change of Name (Minor) form. The form asks for various information, including the minor's full name, date of birth, birthplace, the full new name and his address; the name and address of the person completing the form on behalf of the child and her relationship to the minor; and the names and addresses of both the child's parents. You must provide information on the child's criminal background, if any.
Fill out the lower half of the application form, the joint application part. The other parent must complete this part to join in the application. He must include his name, address and relationship to the child.
Complete the Order for Change of Child's Name. Forms vary by Virginia county, so follow the directions from the court clerk. You typically need the child's date and place of birth, old name and new name. Both parents must sign the order in the spot reserved for mother and father. Don't sign on the judge's line or enter an order date.
Sign and date the top half of the application in front of the court clerk for notarization. Ask the other parent to sign and date the bottom half of the form in front of the clerk and have his signature notarized. Attach the birth certificate to back of the application. File the application and pay the fee; the amount due depends on the county.
Ask the clerk for the order procedures. Some Virginia counties schedule a hearing when you file, and both parents must attend the hearing and bring the order form for the judge's signature. In other counties, you leave the blank order with the clerk and the judge signs as soon as possible. Attend the hearing and bring the order if your county requires a hearing. If the judge signs the order without a hearing, you must check back with the court clerk to find out when the order is signed. Visit the court to get official copies of the order in that case, so you have proof of the name change.
Tips & Warnings
If you are simply changing the child's last name to that of his natural father, you can get an acknowledgement of paternity form, complete the form and have both parents sign and date the form. Once the acknowledgment is completed, you can send the acknowledgement and a written request to amend the child's birth certificate to the Virginia Office of Vital Records.
Check the court rules if you can't get consent of the other parent. Virginia law requires you follow set procedures and have a hearing if the other parent won't agree to the name change, but some parts of the procedure vary by county.
References & Resources
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