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.
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.
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.
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.
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.