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

By Christine Funk, J.D.

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

By Christine Funk, J.D.

In order to legally change your child's last name in Texas, you must obtain a court order. While this may sound scary, for a legal name change it is often just a matter of filling out a form and going to court in some cases. In other cases, you must make certain legal notice is served on other parties before going to court. If the other parent objects, you must have a hearing to change the child's name.

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1. Provide the required information.

Texas requires different forms for use in different circumstances. However, some information required is the same for all circumstances. You can contact your county court for information on how to acquire the necessary forms.

You, the person seeking the name change, are the petitioner. You must provide the court with the new name you want for your child and with information on why you want to change the child's name.

If the child is 10 years of age or older, he or she must sign the form. You also must declare your name, address, date of birth, email address, and phone number. Next, sign the form indicating all information in the petition is true and correct under penalty of perjury.

If the other parent is dead, attach a copy of that parent's death certificate. If the other parent's rights were terminated, attach a copy of the certified court's order of termination of parental rights.

2. File the required forms and pay the filing fee.

In addition to filling out the petition, fill out a proposed Order Changing the Child's Name. Do not fill out the date of judgment section, the judge's name, or the judge's signature line.

You must pay a filing fee. Contact the court to determine the amount of the filing fee in the relevant county. If you cannot afford the filing fee, you can make a motion to have the fee waived.

3. Provide notice.

If you and the child's other parent agree, you can file the name change in the office of the district clerk. You must file in the county where the child lives. Once you file the papers, if you are not filing jointly with the other parent, the other parent must be served.

Service can be accomplished using the sheriff, the local constable, or a private process servicer. You must provide the other parent with notice, even if they are not listed on the birth certificate. The only exception to this is where the other parent's parental rights have been terminated by a court of law. Of course, if the other parent is deceased, notice is not required, however, you must file a special form.

If you do not know where the other parent is, you can file notice by publication.

There is a waiting period to give the other parent time to object. It starts when the other parent is served and continues for at least 20 days—the waiting period ends the first Monday following the 20 day period at 10 a.m.

4. Attend court proceedings and provide essential documents.

If the other parent agrees or does not object, you can change your child's name in an uncontested hearing. Where someone objects, you must have a hearing before the court.

In either case, you need the following documents when you go to court:

  • A proposed Order Changing the Name of the Child
  • A file stamped copy of your previously filed Petition to Change the Name of a Child
  • A file stamped copy of your previously filed Child's Consent to Name Change if the child is 10 or older
  • A file stamped copy of the Return of Service form, which documents service on the other parent
  • A completed Certificate of Last Known Mailing address plus one copy
  • If you are not a parent, the court order appointing you legal guardian or managing conservator

5. File the signed order.

Once you obtain a signed order, you must file it with the clerk's office. Your case is not complete and your child's name is not legally changed unless or until this paperwork is filed with the court.

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.