How to Change a Child's Last Name to My Married Name

By Beverly Bird

The ease with which you can change your child’s surname to match your married name depends a great deal on whether her father objects and how active he is in his life. If you meet with a wall of resistance, it can be difficult, but not impossible. Ultimately, it will usually come down to a judge’s opinion as to whether the change will benefit your child.

Step 1

Speak with your child’s father. If he agrees to the change, ask him to sign a consent. These forms are generally available at your local county courthouse.

Step 2

Get a form for a petition for name change. These are also usually available at your courthouse. When you speak with the court clerk, ask what additional forms may be necessary in your state. For example, in New Jersey, you must also submit a certification, explaining to the court that you want to change your child’s name so it is consistent with yours. New York requires you to prepare an order for the eventual name change, as well as a notice to all interested parties.

Get help changing your legal name. Learn More

Step 3

Complete the paperwork required in your jurisdiction and submit it to the court for filing. Some states also require you to file a copy of your child’s current birth certificate with his current surname. If your child’s father has signed a consent, file it along with your other paperwork.

Step 4

Give a copy of your filed paperwork to your child’s father. New Jersey allows you to send it by certified mail, return receipt requested. Other states require service by sheriff or private process server. In Arizona, if you don’t know where your child’s father can be located, you can file a notice in the newspaper if the court gives you permission to use this option. Your state might also offer this option.

Step 5

Appear before a judge on the appointed date. In some states, when you file your petition, the clerk will assign you a hearing date at that time. Other states will send you a notice in the mail. If your child's father objects to the name change, he can file a written objection to your petition before the hearing, or he can appear at the hearing to make his objection known at that time. If he does either of these things, you usually have the opportunity to present your side of the story to the judge and explain why changing his name is in your child's best interests. If the father doesn’t file a response or appear in court, there’s a good chance a judge will grant your request.

Step 6

Contact the Department of Public Records in your state to find out how to request a new birth certificate for your child, if the judge grants your request. In most states, this is usually a simple matter of filling out a form and submitting the court order the judge signed, allowing the name change.

Get help changing your legal name. Learn More
Father's Rights in a Child's Last Name Change

References

Related articles

How to File for Visitation Rights in Nevada

Nevada, like all other states, uses the "best interests of the child" standard in determining child custody and visitation. Nevada state law is explicit in protecting both parents' rights to their children and judges almost always grant visitation to the non-custodial parent. When parents divorce, state law requires that each parent file a parenting plan with their divorce pleadings. However, when parents were never married, the mother may retain custody of the children until the father seeks visitation.

Rights for a Divorced Father When the Mother Wants to Move Away

Parents aren't always equal under the law. In many divorce cases, courts name one parent as the primary custodian of the children and grant the other parent visitation rights. When the custodial parent wants to relocate with the children, this necessarily affects the other parent’s visitation schedule if the move involves some geographical distance. When a non-custodial father is faced with such a situation, he has the right to object and get the court involved. However, judges’ positions regarding relocation issues vary widely from state to state.

Can a Divorced Woman Give Her Child Her Ex's Last Name?

The surname your child carries helps him identify with the rest of his family. Tradition dictates that a woman takes her husband's surname after marriage and any children born to the union also receive that surname, although many other arrangements exist today. You are not required to give your child a certain last name – or prohibited from it – simply because you gave birth to the child after your marriage ended.

Doing the right thing has never been easier.

Related articles

How to Absolve Parental Rights in Ohio When Parents Are Divorced

Ohio courts typically split custody between divorcing parents in a manner they feel is best for the children. Though ...

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

Florida makes changing your child’s name a relatively easy process or a difficult one, depending on whether you have ...

How to Legally Change the Middle Name of a Child

Depending on how radically you want to change your child’s middle name, the process can be easy or complicated. If ...

How to Change My Child's Last Name If I Have Sole Custody

Your legal right to change your child’s last name does not depend on your custody arrangement. Even if you have sole ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED