How to Legally Change the Middle Name of a Child

By Beverly Bird

Depending on how radically you want to change your child’s middle name, the process can be easy or complicated. If you’re changing it from “Mary” to “Josephine,” you might need a court order. If you’re changing it from “Mary” to “Marie,” most states will not require the permission of a court. It’s also easiest to accomplish the change right after your child is born.

Step 1

Begin using your preferred middle name for your child as early as possible. This establishes a precedent that the name is what you intend. Include it on her pediatrician’s records, day care or school records, and any census or similar forms you complete.

Step 2

Contact the registrar of vital records in your state. If your child is less than a year old, changing her middle name on her birth certificate usually only requires submitting an application on which you make the request. Find out the procedure in your state, ask for the appropriate form and complete it. Attach copies of your records using the new middle name when you submit the application. You’ll usually receive a new birth certificate within a few months, showing the change.

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Step 3

Download legal name change forms from the Internet if your child is too old, or if the change is significant enough that your state will not change her birth certificate without a court order. Some states offer these forms on their websites. In other states you may have to visit the court to pick them up personally or to receive guidance as to where you can find them. They usually include a petition, an affidavit or certification explaining why you want the change, and a court order or judgment the judge will sign to approve the change.

Step 4

Complete the necessary forms for a court-ordered name change and file them with the court. If you are married or living with your child’s other parent, you should both sign the petition. This usually eliminates the need for a court appearance. A judge will review your paperwork, sign your order and you'll receive a copy in the mail.

Step 5

Ask the court clerk for your state's procedure for serving your child's other parent, if you are not married to or living him. Most states require you to give him notice of the change you're requesting so he can object if he doesn't agree. If he does object, the court will generally schedule a hearing before approving the change.

Step 6

Contact the registrar of vital records in your state again after you've received the signed name change order from the court. Complete the required application to change your child's birth certificate just as you would have done had your state not required a court order. Include a certified copy of the order when you submit the application.

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

References

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How to Change a Baby's Last Name Legally

Changing your baby's name is typically a simple process if both parents agree to the new name. Exact state requirements for a child's name change differ by county, but you commonly have to file a petition in order to receive a name change order from a judge and provide proof of consent from both parents. You must have a legal relationship to the baby, such as a parent, foster parent or legal guardian, to file the name change petition on her behalf.

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 legal and physical custody, the court might not allow you to change her last name if her other parent maintains a frequent and loving relationship with her and if he objects. Your odds increase somewhat if you can prove your child will benefit from the change.

How to Change a Kid's Last Name

Changing a child's last name is often done as part of another matter, such as a paternity or adoption proceeding. However, you can file an independent proceeding to change your child's last name. A judge will have to determine that the name change is in the best interests of the child. Changing a child's name is subject to individual state laws. The process varies from state to state, but it is generally similar.

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