Custodial parents can change the legal name of their child. A single mom or a divorced mom who has taken back her maiden name may want her child's name to match her own. Adoptive parents or adopting stepparents may also have reasons for changing a child's name. Parents wishing to change a child's name must go through the court, or the child may have trouble later acquiring legal documents, including a driver's license and passport.
Items you will need
- Petition for name change
- Certified birth certificate
- Filing fee
- Publication fee
Request a petition for a name change from the local probate and family court in your area (see Resources). Make copies of all documents you file with the courts regarding the name change. Write out a check and mail the petition to the probate court address on the form.
Receive a notification in the mail giving you a court date to go in front of the judge for the name change. The court process is procedural, and unless your foresee the other parent not agreeing to the change, you do not need to hire a lawyer.
Keep the certified copy of the name change in a safe place. Request and pay for additional certified copies if you need them. Make copies that are not certified and keep them on hand for any institution that requires proof of the name change but not a certified document.
Fill out a birth certificate amendment from your state's Office of Vital Records (see Resources). Mail a copy of the original birth certificate, the amended birth certificate and the court order of the legal name change.
Fill out name change through the Social Security office if the child already has a Social Security number. The document must be filed with a copy of the court order authorizing the child's name change, according to the Social Security Administration.
Notify all interested parties of the name change. Mail a copy to the child's school and request that the child's name be changed on his permanent record. Call the health insurance company to change the child's name. Change the beneficiary name in your own will, on your investments and on your life insurance to reflect the child's new name.
- If the child's name change is due to an adoption, petition for the name change at the same time the adoption decree is issued by the court.
- The filing fee for the name change petition may be waived if you qualify as low income in your state. Filing fees for court documents may be paid for with check or money order.
- Some states require consent from both parents before a minor's name can be legally changed. If you expect another parent or guardian to object, be prepared to give the judge valid reasons on why the child's name should be changed legally.
- Be wary of website services that charge you to download forms that are available through the courts at no charge.
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