Legal Ways to Change a Child's Last Name in Missouri

by Tom Streissguth

    The state of Missouri allows minors to legally change their names, but the procedure is more complex and time-consuming than adult name changes. To complete the name change, you must file certain petitions and consent forms, as well as publish notice of the name change in a general circulation newspaper for a set period of time. In most cases, and always when one or both parents contest the name change, a hearing is necessary.

    Step 1

    File a Petition for Appointment of Next Friend. A "next friend" is the individual -- parent, legal guardian or representative -- actually filing the name change petition and other documents on behalf of the minor, since state law bars minors from undertaking court proceedings on their own. This form is available for download after you complete the Litigant Awareness Program, a program that explains the Missouri court system. All persons representing themselves in court must complete this brief course; however, it can easily be completed online through the state's "Representing Yourself in Missouri Courts" website.

    Step 2

    File a verified Petition for Change of Name - Minor in the court having jurisdiction over the minor's place of residence. This form is also available for download upon completion of the Litigant Awareness Program. The petition must list the minor's current name, requested new name, reason for name change, place of residence and other vital information, such as the minor's place and date of birth and that of her parents, if known. "Verified" means you must swear to the truth of the facts presented in the petition before a notary or other authorized person, such as a clerk of court. The clerk will need a birth certificate or other certified form of identification for the minor.

    Step 3

    File the written consent of the minor, if she is 14 years of age or older, as well as the consent of each known parent along with the petition. You must have the consent forms or letters notarized. If one or both parents do not consent, or cannot be found, the court will schedule a hearing on the matter. At least 30 days before the hearing, the clerk of court will send a notice of hearing by certified or registered mail to the last known address of the parent who either cannot be found or does not consent to the name change.

    Step 4

    Attend the hearing, if the court requires one. At the hearing, a magistrate or judge will hear any arguments for or against the name change and then render a decision. If the change of name is found to be legally proper and not detrimental to the interests of any party, the court will approve the name change. If a hearing is not necessary, prepare an unsigned order for name change and mail or present the order to the clerk of court.

    Step 5

    Once you receive a copy of the judgment from the court, publish notice of the name change in a general circulation newspaper once a week for three weeks. According to Missouri law, this process must begin within 20 days of the date of the order. The court will designate the newspaper for publication if there is no local general circulation newspaper.

    Step 6

    File proof of publication with the court within 10 days of the last publication date. Once this step is complete, the name change is legal; however, you should obtain a certified copy of the order for name change from the court. This document will be needed to change any name information at the Department of Motor Vehicles, Social Security Administration or other government agencies.

    Things Needed

    • Petition for next friend
    • Verified petition for change of name - minor
    • Parental consent form
    • Proposed order for name change
    • Birth certificate

    Tips & Warnings

    • If the minor is married, the verified petition must have the name of her spouse, names and ages of any children and their places of residence.
    • Missouri law bans a legal name change for minors (or adults) if the court finds the change will be detrimental to any other person. In addition, the verified petition must state whether there are any court actions pending against the petitioner.

    About the Author

    Tom Streissguth has worked for over 15 years in the legal field as a writer and legal assistant, and has authored numerous articles on Social Security disability law. He has many nonfiction and reference titles in print, including works for The Gale Group and Lerner. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Yale University.