How to Legally Change a Child's Last Name in Florida

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

How to Legally Change a Child's Last Name in Florida

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

There are multiple reasons why you might want to change your child's last name, such as divorce, change in family circumstances, or personal preference. To accomplish the name change in Florida, you will need to file specific paperwork and get the name change approved by a judge. The following information details steps to take to finalize a name change.

Woman typing on her computer while her daughter hugs her

Get Fingerprinted

Each person seeking the child's name change is called a "petitioner." A petitioner in a child's case could be one or both parent(s) or legal guardian(s). Unless you are seeking to restore the child's former last name, you must submit the fingerprints of each petitioner for a state and national criminal background check.

You will need to attach fingerprint cards for each petitioner to your petition. You cannot request a hearing on your petition until you have filed a copy of your fingerprints with the Department of Law Enforcement and the court clerk has received the results of the background check(s).

Complete and Submit the Paperwork

If you want the name change with reference to an adoption, dissolution of marriage, or paternity action, you will need to request the name change as part of that ongoing case if the action is not yet final. In all other cases, the required form is Petition for Change of Name (Minor Child(ren))(Law Form 12.982(c)). After you have completed the form, you will need to have it notarized. Wait to sign the petition until you are in front of a notary.

Obtain Consent and Request a Hearing

The court clerk can usually help you schedule a hearing.

If both parents consent to the name change and live in the county where you're seeking the name change, you can both file the necessary paperwork as petitioners and then set a hearing.

If only one parent resides in the county where you are seeking the name change or if only one parent is requesting the change, you must notify the other parent and obtain the other parent's consent for the name change. In this case, you should complete and file Consent for Change of Name (Minor Child(ren))(Form 12.982(d)).

If both parents do not consent to the name change, the process becomes more difficult. You can still request a hearing on the name change, but you will need to notify the other parent about both your petition and the hearing. You will need to formally serve the other parent with this notice. If you know where the other parent lives, you will need to personally serve them with the notice by hiring a process server. If you don't know where they live, you will need to use an alternative form of service called constructive service.

You should consult the court clerk and legal representation for assistance with constructive service, which usually involves publishing notice of your petition and hearing in a newspaper or sending the information to the individual's last known address.

Attend the Hearing

Bring the Final Judgment of Change of Name (Minor Child(ren) form (Form 12.982(e)). Fill out the top portion of this form requesting basic information about your case, but leave the rest blank for the judge. If the judge approves your petition, he or she will sign the order.

Get Certified Copies of the Court Order

After the hearing, request certified copies of the order, which requires a fee. You will need certified copies for your child in the future such as when the child needs to obtain a government-issued document such as a passport or driver's license.

If the process of changing your child's last name feels daunting, you can utilize a legal service provider to help prepare the necessary paperwork on your behalf.

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.