A parent or guardian who wants to change a child's last name in Indiana must complete the appropriate name marker change form. The submission and approval of a name marker change form by the state can be used to honor the child’s gender identity. The approval of a name change does not mean that the state has approved the form for a gender change.
Rules for Filing Petition for a Legal Name Change
A parent or guardian should submit the petition with the name marker change form to a circuit court, superior court or probate court in the county where the minor resides, along with the court filing fee. A petition must be notarized prior to filing. A change of name hearing will follow the submission of the form.
Indiana Code Section 34-28-2-2 provides that the petition must be verified. This generally means that the statements in the petition must be taken under oath before a notary public or other officer authorized to take affidavits and administer oaths. The petition must state in detail the reason the change is requested. Further, the written consent of a parent, or the written consent of the guardian if both parents have died, must be filed with the petition. The exception to this rule is when a parent’s consent is not required under Indiana Code Section 31-9-9, which regards consent to adoption.
A parent’s consent also is not required under circumstances outlined in Indiana Code Section 31-19-9-8, when the parent has abandoned or deserted the minor, failed to communicate significantly with the minor, or that parent has committed a crime against the child. Before a minor child’s name may be changed, it is mandatory that the parents or guardian of the child be served with a copy of the petition as required by Indiana’s trial rules.
Required Forms for an Indiana Name Change
The petitioner is required to state in the forms whether they are the mother, father or guardian of the minor child. They must also state whether the written consent of the non-petitioning parent or guardian is filed with the petition or the written consent of the non-petitioning parent or guardian is not required. The petitioner must provide the minor child’s current name and a list of their prior names, if the child had more than one name in their life before this request. The petitioner must also provide the child’s date of birth, mailing address and residential address, if different from the mailing address.
The petitioner must provide the minor child’s Indiana driver’s license number or Indiana identification card number. The petitioner must bring the minor child’s driver’s license or ID card to the change of name hearing for verification. They must state whether the child does or does not hold a valid U.S. passport. If so, they must bring the child’s passport to the hearing for verification.
Confirming No Felony Convictions or Defrauding of Creditors
The petitioner must state whether any judgments of criminal conviction of a felony under laws of any state or the U.S. have been entered against the minor child or provide that the minor child does not have any felony convictions.
The petitioner must state that changing the minor child’s name is not an effort to defraud any of the child’s creditors. The petitioner must affirm that they will publish notice of their request to change the name of the minor child in a local publication as required by law, and they will need to bring proof of publication to the hearing. The petitioner must verify that the child is not confined to a Department of Correction facility and is not a sex or violent offender required to register their name with the state.
Setting a Court Hearing Date
The petitioner must share the new name requested for the minor child and request that the court to which they submit the petition set a hearing to consider the petition. The petitioner may note on the form whether they also want to change the child’s name on the child’s birth certificate. The petitioner must swear to and sign the contents of the form under penalty of perjury. The petitioner is required to share their mailing address and telephone number.
Obtaining Consent from the Other Parent
The non-petitioning parent or guardian of the child must provide, on a separate form, that they have given their consent for the name change. This party must state that the consent is executed by them without coercion or duress and is irrevocable. They also must swear and sign to the contents of the form under penalty of perjury.
If the non-petitioning parent’s whereabouts are unknown, the petitioning parent or guardian must sign a form that verifies this information. The petitioning parent or guardian must state that they have made a diligent search and cannot find the whereabouts of the non-petitioning parent. The hearing must take place more than 30 days after the third notice of publication. Any person has the right to attend the hearing and file written objections on or before the hearing date.
Self-Representation Is Acceptable
A parent or guardian may represent themselves or get the help of a family law attorney to complete the forms and attend the hearing. Indiana courts advise that a parent or guardian consult with an attorney to make sure they are following the rules. They may also hire an attorney to complete the forms for them.
The forms that must be completed include a verified petition for change of name of minor child; notice of petition for change of name of minor child; notice of filing proof of publication; and order on verified petition for change of name of minor child. If the non-petitioning parent has given consent, the petitioner should submit the form for consent to name change of minor child. If the non-petitioning parent or guardian cannot be found, the petitioner should submit an affidavit of diligent search.
Directions for Completing Name Change Forms
The petitioner must type or print the forms neatly in black ink. They should not print on the back or sides of the forms. The petitioner should check with their local clerk of court to find out the number of copies they must provide.
The petitioner should take the originals and copies of the verified petition for change of name of minor child to the clerk in the county where they live. The clerk will file stamp the forms, keep the originals and necessary copies, and return the rest of the copies to the petitioner. The filing fee may be paid in cash or money order.
Publishing a Legal Notice
The petitioner should contact the newspaper in the county where they live to publish a legal notice of the change of the name. They should give the newspaper a copy of the forms they filed with the clerk. The notice must be published once a week for three weeks.
The petitioner should keep a copy of the newspaper every time the notice appears. They should complete the affidavit of publication with the dates the notice was published. They should take this form to the newspaper and ask them to verify publication. The newspaper will need to sign the document. Some will prepare a notice of publication to provide to the court.
Signing the Name Change Order and Notifying Agencies
When the petitioner goes to the hearing, they should bring the order on name change. This allows the judge to sign the order.
After the minor child’s name has been changed, the petitioning parent or guardian is required to notify government agencies, employers, creditors and other interested agencies and businesses of the child’s new name.
No Automatic Update
A court order to change a child’s name does not automatically update other legal records. A child’s identification records, such as an Indiana state ID and a Social Security card, are updated only when the parent requests an update through the organization that issues the records. A birth certificate is issued by the Indiana Department of Health. The parent would need to contact that agency to update such a record.
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.