Father's Rights to Objection to Changes to a Child's Name in California

By Teo Spengler

It is no coincidence that a last name is called the "family name," which goes a long way toward explaining why the last name a child carries is an emotional issue after a divorce. No matter which parent wins primary physical custody, a father may balk at allowing his child to be renamed with that of his ex-spouse or a new stepfather. In California, both parents have a right to make their arguments in court.

Child's Best Interests

In California, neither parent has an absolute right to have a child carry his or her last name. Parents are free to christen their child with the surname of either parent or a hyphenated version of the two names. But, as divorce can signal the beginning of a battle over child custody, child visitation and child support, it also can trigger legal proceedings about the child's last name. Neither parent has the superior edge in such a contest; the court decides the issue by considering the child's best interests.

Name Change Petition

A child's name change may be raised as an issue in the divorce proceedings or afterwards. Either parent or a legal guardian may initiate a request to change a minor child's name; a child cannot bring the motion herself until she reaches majority age. To initiate the procedure after divorce, the parent files a petition asking the court to permit the name change. An order to show cause is filed with the petition. Once these documents are entered into the court files and a hearing date is set, the parent must arrange to have the order to show cause published in a local newspaper.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Notice Requirements

If one parent files a petition to change the name of a minor child in California, the other parent may signal his approval by adding his signature to the court papers. If he disagrees, he can object to the procedure once he receives notice of the proceeding. To prevent one parent from keeping the other in the dark about the proceeding until a name change has been ordered, state law requires that unless the other parent agrees, he must be served with a copy of the order to show cause. This document specifies the time and place of the court hearing and must be served at least 30 days before the hearing. If the objecting parent resides in California, he must be personally handed a copy of the petition by a third party not involved in the dispute; if he lives out of state, he can be served by registered mail, return receipt requested.

Opposing a Petition

A father who has been served with notice of a pending name change action, and who objects, should file opposition papers with the court and appear at the hearing. Both parents will be given a chance to present their positions to the court and older children also may be allowed to address the court. The most successful arguments will be those based on the best interests of the child because ultimately, that is the issue on which the judge will render the ruling.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Minor Child Name Change Laws in Michigan

References

Resources

Related articles

How Old Does a Child Have to Be If He Wants to Change His Last Name?

Generally speaking, a child must get permission from his parents to change his first or last name. The particulars of changing a name vary by state, but parental approval is the typical standard. If a child cannot convince his parents that a new name is a good idea, he generally will have to wait until he is 18 years old to change his given name.

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

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.

How to Change a Child's Name in Texas

Texas laws allow you to legally change a child's name by filing a petition in court. Both parents and any other person who has a court-ordered right and interest in the child must grant consent. Children ten years of age or older must also grant written consent to the name change. The petition and all other necessary forms are filed in the Texas District Court of the county in which the child resides.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Legal Reasons to Change a Minor's Last Name

Parents often seek court approval to change a child’s last name so the child will have the same surname as the family ...

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

The Texas Family Code contains the regulations that outline the conditions of changing the name of a minor in the ...

Laws Regarding Children's Names After a Divorce in Oregon

After a divorce, you may want to change your child's name. In Oregon, the procedure for changing a child's name can be ...

Can I Change My Baby's Last Name After Birth in New York State?

Traditionally, when a woman married, she took on her husband's surname. The couple then passed on the surname to any ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED