How to Change the Name on a Birth Certificate of a Four-Month-Old in West Virginia

By Tom Streissguth

Not all baby names are flights of gentle inspiration. If you're having second thoughts about the little Filibuster or Drusilla that's sleeping cozily in the baby room, you can contact the Health Statistics Center down at the West Virginia Health and Human Services, Department of Vital Records. The agency requires a court order to amend information on birth certificates.

Legal Authority

Section 48-5 of the West Virginia State Code governs legal name changes. If you wish to change your child’s name on a birth certificate, you must file a Petition for Change of Name of Minor in the local circuit or county court. You must have been a resident of the county in which you live for at least one year prior to filing the petition. The child can be your natural or adopted child, or your legal ward.

Petition Information

The petition includes the date and place of birth, the child’s residence address, and the legal names of the parents. West Virginia law does not set down specific procedures for instances of divorce, adoption, change of guardianship or custody, or death of a parent. You must state the reason for the name change, however, and provide any evidence -- such as an adoption certificate or divorce decree -- supporting the petition. You must also certify that the child is not the subject of any court judgments. The petition may be signed by both parents, or just one in the case of sole custody. The clerk may require a signed consent from the noncustodial parent.

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Notice

Before you file the petition in court, you must file a notice of the application as a legal advertisement in the local newspaper. The notice must give the time, place and date of your application for the name change, which will be subject to change by order of the court clerk. Your name-change petition notice must include the current and proposed future name of the child, and the reason for the change of name.

Objections

Other persons may file an objection to the petition, showing that the change is likely to cause injury to their own interests or to the child's. An ex-spouse, for example, may object to a petition to change the child's surname after a divorce; a relative may suspect that the name change is for the purposes of identity theft. Anyone opposing a legal name change may appear when or after you file the application and make known their objection to the name change. The court will hear the matter, and the presiding judge will consider any objections; if deciding in favor of the name change the court will issue a signed order.

Affidavit

You must file a certified copy of the order with the court clerk, who will have both the old and new names on file. Once the order is filed, the name change takes effect; you then may file the court order along with an Affidavit to Correct Birth Certificate of Minor with the Vital Registration Office. The office will charge a fee and issue an amended birth certificate; you can obtain certified copies by application to the same office.

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Legal Ways to Change a Child's Last Name in Missouri
 

References

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

The laws of each state provide for a change of legal name for a minor child. The procedure is basically the same in every state: you must file a petition for name change of minor, provide identification and a reason for the change, and attend a hearing before a judge or magistrate. In most cases, the hearing is a brief formality; however, if one of the parents objects to the name change, the procedure becomes more complicated.

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Illinois allows you to change a baby's name as long as you're the baby's parent, have custody of the baby and have lived in Illinois for at least six months. The court must find that the change of name is beneficial for the child and will consider the wishes of both parents. If both parents consent to changing the baby's name, the process is relatively simple and handled through the Illinois Circuit County Court of the baby's residence.

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Legally changing the spelling of your name requires the same steps as changing to a new name; you must file the appropriate forms in the court with jurisdiction over your place of residence. This usually means a county civil court, sometimes also known as a circuit court or district court. For most people with no criminal background, a legal name change is a fairly simple and straightforward process.

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