California Child Name Change Laws

By Jim Thomas

There may be a number of reasons for changing your child's name. Perhaps your youngster is adopted by a stepparent when you remarry. Or you decide to revert to your maiden name after a divorce and want your child's name to match. California law delineates the process for name changes, which is a fairly easy procedure. You begin by filing an application in the county where your child lives.

Parental Agreement

If both parents agree to a name change for a child under 18, you apply to the appropriate county court by filing a Petition for a Change of Name. As the California Courts website explains, it's then a simple matter to publish a legally required notice in a newspaper -- the court will give you instructions for doing so. If you file for a name change by yourself, you must notify the other parent. If there is no objection from the other parent, the court will grant the requested name change.

Contested Name Change

After you file your application, the court will give you a court date for a hearing. As of the date of publication, the date of the hearing was about 6 to 12 weeks after filing. If you filed the application by yourself, you must give notice to the other parent at least 30 days before the hearing. If the other parent opposes the name change, the judge at the hearing will determine if changing your child's name is in his best interest. An older child's wishes will be factored into the judge's decision.

Get help changing your legal name. Learn More

After Approval

If the court approves your child's name change, buy enough certified copies of the official document from the court. The document, which is called the Decree Changing Name, will enable you to change documents like your child's Social Security card, birth certificate, passport, school records and immigration records. If your child is of driving age, use a certified copy of the Decree Changing Name at the DMV to change the name on his driver's license. Changing a Social Security card can be done at a local Social Security office.


If you are changing your name and your child's name due to domestic violence, the court system can help keep your new name confidential. By registering with the Safe Home program, your new name and your child's new name will not appear on court records. You can ask a local domestic violence center, family law facilitator or the victim services unit in the local district attorney's office for assistance with the registration process.

Get help changing your legal name. Learn More
The Law for Resuming Your Maiden Name in Ohio


Related articles

How to Change Your Name in Idaho

A person 18 years of age or older may change their legal name by following the proper district court procedures. You must have a reason for your name change, such as taking another family name, that doesn't violate state law. You can't change your name in Idaho to avoid paying debts or if you've been convicted as a sex offender in any state. Once a court approves your name change request, you may use the court order to change your name on other official documents, such as your driver's license.

Can You Change Your Name When You Enlist in the Army?

Just because you enlisted in the army with a particular name doesn't mean that you're stuck with that name for your entire service period. If your name changes due to marriage, divorce or another reason, you simply need to submit a name change request to your commanding officer and supply the relevant supporting documents. Once approved, your military records will reflect your new name. However, if you change your name after you leave the army, you will not be able to make these changes on your military records.

How to Legally Change a Child's Last Name

Unless you wish to change the last name of a child you are adopting, you will need a court order to change either the first or last name of a minor child. Name changes are governed by state law, and these laws vary somewhat from state to state. Courts require an acceptable reason before they will grant a name change.

Doing the right thing has never been easier.

Related articles

How to Legally Change Your Name in Arizona?

In Arizona it is a fairly simple process to change your name. If you do not like the name you were born with, or you ...

How to Legally Change Your Child's Name in Colorado

You can change your child's last name in Colorado as long as the court finds that the change benefits the child and ...

What if I Didn't Request a Name Change in Divorce Papers in Maryland?

In a divorce, you may want to change your last name back to your maiden name. However, if you forgot to request a name ...

How to Legally Change a Name in Tennessee

In Tennessee, it is a fairly uncomplicated process to legally change your name. If you prefer a name other than the one ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED