Legal Reasons to Change a Minor's Last Name

By Valerie Stevens

Parents often seek court approval to change a child’s last name so the child will have the same surname as the family the child lives with, for the sake of convenience in dealing with schools and for cultural reasons. Children often suffer confusion and embarrassment when their names are different from their parents. While a woman can legally change her last name as part of a marriage or divorce, a minor child’s name change usually must be handled in a separate action.

Parents often seek court approval to change a child’s last name so the child will have the same surname as the family the child lives with, for the sake of convenience in dealing with schools and for cultural reasons. Children often suffer confusion and embarrassment when their names are different from their parents. While a woman can legally change her last name as part of a marriage or divorce, a minor child’s name change usually must be handled in a separate action.

Marriage

Marriage is a common reason that parents seek a legal surname change for a minor child. When a mother marries a man who is not her child’s father and decides to take his surname, she often wants her child to take her new last name. Parents want the child to identify as a part of the new family.

Get help changing your legal name. Learn More

Divorce

Some people seek to change a child’s last name when they divorce. A woman who resumes the use of her maiden name might prefer that her children have her last name if she is the primary custodian.

Domestic Abuse

A victim of domestic abuse might seek a name change for herself and her child to protect them from their abuser. Under these circumstances, some states will allow a minor’s name to be changed as a part of the divorce or protective order proceeding.

Paternity

Sometimes parents want to change the name of a minor when the child was given the mother’s surname at birth. If the biological parents marry after the child is born, some states will allow the child’s surname to be changed to the father’s name as part of marriage. Otherwise, if an action has been filed and paternity acknowledged, the father can ask the court to change the child’s last name to his.

Adoption

A name change is often a part of an adoption proceeding and many states do not require a separate action for the name change. Whether the adoption is a stepparent adoption or an international adoption, the new parents usually want the child to have their family name.

Child's Preference

When a child reaches a certain age in most states, the court considers the child's preference regarding a name change. The judge will hear from the child on a name change sought by his parents, but a child cannot seek a name change independently until he reaches the age of 18. However, if parents and children agree and the court is convinced it is in the best interests of the child, a name change is usually allowed.

Get help changing your legal name. Learn More
Father's Rights to Objection to Changes to a Child's Name in California

References

Related articles

How Old Does a Child Have to Be If He Wants to Change His Last Name?

Generally speaking, a child must get permission from his parents to change his first or last name. The particulars of changing a name vary by state, but parental approval is the typical standard. If a child cannot convince his parents that a new name is a good idea, he generally will have to wait until he is 18 years old to change his given name.

How to Change a Female's Last Name in New York

New York law allows any resident of the state to change her name for any reason other than to defraud people. Women can make a name change official by using the New York marriage license application, in situations where the change is part of the marriage process, or by filing a name change petition with a civil court in a New York district.

The Custody of Kids When Not Married in Mississippi

In most states, when an unmarried woman gives birth, she automatically and legally has sole custody of her child. Mississippi is no exception. When a married woman has a child, the state presumes that her husband is the father. In legal terms, “presumes” means that it is true until proved otherwise to a court's satisfaction. If the woman is not married, her child has no presumed father. Her child’s biological father therefore has no rights unless he takes steps to correct the situation.

Doing the right thing has never been easier.

Related articles

Got Married & Want to Change Stepchild's Name in Illinois

Blended families that unite stepparents and stepchildren are fairly common. In most cases, stepchildren and their ...

Can a Divorced Woman Give Her Child Her Ex's Last Name?

The surname your child carries helps him identify with the rest of his family. Tradition dictates that a woman takes ...

How Would My Newborn's Birth Certificate Be if I'm Not Married to the Dad?

Marriage is not a prerequisite for parenthood. A considerable number of children in the United States are born to ...

Minor Child Name Change Laws in Michigan

There are many acceptable reasons to change a child’s legal name. The most common are marriage, remarriage or ...

Browse by category