How to Change a Child's Last Name in California

By Lindley Himes
Changing a child's name in California requires the approval of a judge.

child image by Renata Osinska from

In the state of California only a judge has the authority to legally change a name. So to change a child’s name you must petition the judge in person at a court hearing. The law is flexible in allowing parents, guardians, and adopters to change the child’s last name to match their own.

Download, the forms NC-100 (Petition for Change of Name), NC-110 (Name and Information About the Person Whose Name is to Be Changed), NC-120 (Order to Show Cause for Change of Name), NC-130 (Decree for Changing Name), and CM-010 (Civil Case Cover Sheet). The forms are available at the California Courts: Self Help Center website. They can also be obtained from the court. The California: Find a Court website has a list of courts, phone numbers, and links to their websites.

Fill the forms out carefully. Improperly filed forms may be rejected requiring a resubmission, including a new filing fee. Form NC-100 has detailed instructions about legally changing a name.

File the forms CM-010 and NC-100 with the clerk of court, at the local courthouse. There is a $325 filing fee. You will receive two filed-endorsed copies of the petition.

Request a court hearing date by filing form NC-120 with the clerk of court.

Attend the hearing and get the judge's signature on the NC-120 form.

File the signed form NC-120 with the clerk of court. You will receive two filed-endorsed copies and a date for a second hearing.

Publish the form NC-120. This can be done through the local newspaper. It must be published at least four weeks prior to the second hearing. You will need proof of publication for the judge. Generally the newspaper will send you a copy of the issue with the published petition. If there is no local newspaper, you can petition the clerk of court to post the notice.

Attend the second hearing. Bring copies of all the documents and proof of publication for form NC-120. If everything is in order the judge will sign the petition granting a legal name change for the child.

About the Author

Lindley Himes began writing in 2003. His article, "The Death of William Rufus, King of England," was published in the "Welaebethan 2004 Journal of History." Himes presented his paper, "Logistics of the First Crusade," at the annual meeting of the Southwestern Social Science Association in 2003. He studies history at California State University, Fullerton.

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