Florida makes changing your child’s name a relatively easy process or a difficult one, depending on whether you have the consent of her other parent. If you don’t, you’ll have to jump through a few extra legal hoops. Either way, a judge must approve your request, and you’ll need a court order.
Take your child to your local police department to have her fingerprinted. Call ahead to explain what you need so an officer can welcome her and alleviate any fears she might have. Not all Florida counties require this, so check with your local circuit county court first.
Access a “Petition for Change of Name (Minor Child(ren))” from Florida’s state court website. It’s interactive, so you can fill in the blanks online and print out a finished copy. Take it to a notary public to sign it and have your signature notarized.
Attach a copy of your child’s fingerprints to the petition, if your court requires it. Take it to the circuit court in the county where you live and file it with the clerk. Pay any fees associated.
Serve a copy of your petition on your child’s other parent. Florida requires that you have your local sheriff or a private process server deliver it to him. If you don’t know his whereabouts, tell the clerk at the time you file your petition. Ask about your county’s rules for constructive service. You may have to serve him by newspaper notice or by mail at his last known address.
Contact your child’s other parent, if possible, to find out if he will consent to the name change. If he does, ask him to complete a “Consent for Change of Name (Minor Child(ren)).” This form is also available on the state’s judicial website. File the consent with the same court where you filed your petition.
Call the court to schedule a hearing date. If your child’s other parent has not consented to the name change, the court will give him time to object in writing.
Access a “Final Judgment of Change of Name (Minor Child(ren)),” also available from the state’s website. Fill in the top portion where it asks for the basic information about your case. Leave the rest blank.
Take the judgment with you when you attend the scheduled hearing. If the judge grants your request, he will complete the rest of the judgment and give you a signed, certified copy, allowing the name change.
Go online to the website of the Florida Department of Health and access an “Application for Amendment to Florida Birth Certificate.” Complete the application and send it, along with a copy of your photo ID and your certified court order, to Florida Vital Statistics, Amendment Section, P.O. Box 210, Jacksonville, Florida, 32231-0042.
Tips & Warnings
If your child’s other parent opposes the name change, he might also appear at the hearing. In a dispute, the judge will decide the issue based on the best interests of your child. He’ll consider how the name change will benefit her, your reasons for wanting the change and her other parent’s reasons for objecting to it. A judge might also consider the closeness of her relationship with her other parent and how long she has been using his name.
If you and your child's other parent are on good terms and he consents, he can also file a supplemental page with your petition. If you do this, you don't have to serve him with a copy.
References & Resources
- Florida Department of Health: Application for Amendment to Florida Birth Record (PDF)
- Florida State Courts: Instructions for Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.982 ( c) Petition for Change of Name (Minor Child(ren)) (06/10) (PDF)
- Florida State Courts: Instructions for Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.982 (d) Consent for Change of Name (Minor Child(ren)) (PDF)
- Florida Court Forms: Florida Name Change
- Wolf, Atter & Wolf: Changing Your Name After Divorce
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