Many divorced parents whose last names change when they remarry hope to similarly change their children's names to match their own. Name change requests are typically initiated by the person seeking to change their own names, but parents of minor children (children younger than 18) may petition the court on their child's behalf. However, changing the first name of your son can be difficult if he is more than a few years old because courts fear a lack of stability and social development for children who have already grown accustomed to their name and may not understand the change.
Secure the consent of both of the child's biological or adoptive parents. If you have divorced your ex-spouse and wish to change your son's name to match your new surname, you must obtain the approval of your ex-spouse first. If he does not consent, you may not change your son's name.
Petition the court for your son's name change. Forms vary from state to state, but will be available at a county family or probate court. Indicate to the court clerk that you are petitioning for a court order to change a minor child's name.
Submit the completed form containing both parents' signatures along with any applicable filing fee (this varies from state to state, but is typically less than $100) to the court clerk. Fee waivers can usually be obtained in cases of financial hardship.
Attend the hearing if one is scheduled. Not all name change petitions will require a hearing, but it is possible that you will be required to appear before a judge to plead your case. An attorney is recommended, but not required for this process. If your son is old enough, he may also need to testify that he wants his name changed.
Submit a copy of the court order to the Social Security office to receive a new Social Security card for your son. If your son has already started school, you should also contact the school's administration so that their records can be updated to reflect your son's new name.
- Informal name changes, in which you simply start calling your son by a new name, are common in cases when an ex-spouses consent cannot be obtained, or when the hassle of petitioning the court is too great. While this is a popular option for first names, your son should always use his legal surname on official documents, including school registration forms.
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