How Do I Legally Change My Daughter's Last Name?

By Cindy DeRuyter, J.D.

How Do I Legally Change My Daughter's Last Name?

By Cindy DeRuyter, J.D.

If you want to change your minor child's last name, you can ask the court to do so. It is important to complete this process legally. Otherwise, your daughter could have problems later when she needs to get her driver's license or get a job. In some states, family courts handle name changes. In others, applicants must petition civil courts. Regardless of which court hears these requests in your state, you need a valid reason to request the change.

Mother with her arm around her daughter sitting on a couch looking at a laptop together

To legally change your child's last name, follow these steps.

1. File a petition with the court.

Each state's court has its own forms and fees for name change petitions. Obtain the correct form for your state, complete all required fields, and file the petition with your county clerk of court. Pay the required fee or request a fee waiver if you cannot pay it.

You must also provide additional documentation to support your petition. This generally includes proof of your identification and of your daughter's identification. Your state may also require information about your criminal history and that of your daughter, if applicable.

If your daughter is over a certain age, the court may require her to consent to the name change by completing and signing a separate consent form.

2. Notify your child's other parent.

Unless your daughter's other parent agrees to the name change and signs the petition, you must notify them of the request and of the court hearing.

Provide documentation to the court that you served notice of the upcoming hearing on your daughter's other parent. In some states, the parent requesting the name change must post a notice of the petition and hearing in a legal newspaper and give the court proof of publication.

If your child's other parent objects to your name change request, you will both have the opportunity to tell the court why you want or do not want your daughter's name changed.

3. Attend the court hearing.

Depending on your state and the circumstances of your name change request, the court may allow you to attend an open docket court hearing, which is not scheduled in advance. If, however, your child's other parent objects to the name change request, the clerk of court will schedule a hearing and give you the date and time in advance.

At the hearing, the judge asks questions about your name change request. If the matter is not opposed and the request is in good order, a name change request hearing is a fairly straightforward matter. When there is conflict or disagreement between the child's parents, each parent provides testimony.

The judge rules on the name change petition based on the information provided to the court in advance and at the hearing. If the judge grants the name change request by issuing an order, provide the court order to the Social Security Administration as well as your child's school, bank, doctor, insurance company, and any other person or organization using your daughter's former last name.

Your state's name change procedures may vary from the steps described above. For help changing your child's last name and ensuring you follow all your state's procedures, you may want to hire an attorney licensed in your state. Alternatively, you may choose to work with an online service provider.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.

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