State laws govern the changing of children's last names. Because the laws vary, it is advisable for parents to discuss their jurisdiction's laws with an attorney or the clerk of the court before beginning the name change process.
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To change your child's last name, you must obtain a court order. As a safeguard against fraud, you will also publish notice of the name change in a newspaper or other public forum.
You will not need a special court order to change a child's last name if she is adopted and taking the new parents' last name. Likewise, if the family determines the identity of a previously unknown father and wishes to give the child his name, they will not be required to obtain a special court order.
To change a last name for reasons other than adoption or paternity test results, both parents must consent to the name change in writing.
To apply for a name change via court order, the child's custodial parent must file a petition for name change with the clerk of the court in the jurisdiction where the family lives.
Information to Include
The name change petition should outline the child's previous name, proposed last name and the reasons the family is initiating the name change.
If the child is old enough to understand the implications of a change in last name, the court might ask her opinion on the issue before making a ruling on the petition.