Most states allow a resident to legally change his name under certain circumstances. A parent or guardian may also wish to change the last name of a minor child. The law allows for a minor's last name to be legally changed if the parent or guardian has a legitimate reason for requesting the change such as pursuant to an adoption, after paternity has legally been established or simply because the parent or guardian is unhappy with her last name in some cases.
When adopted, a child's adoptive parents have the legal right to change the child's entire name, including her last name. At the final hearing, the judge will ask the adoptive parents what name they wish to give the child. At that time, the adoptive parents can choose a new first and middle name as well as give the child their last name. A new birth certificate will be issued that reflects the child's new name.
When a child is born out of wedlock, the child often receives the mother's last name. If paternity is legally established by the father at a later date, the parents have the legal option to change the child's last name to that of the father. During the paternity proceedings, the court will ask the parties whether they wish to change the child's last name. If the last name is changed then an amended birth certificate will be issued reflecting the child's new last name.
Most states allow a person to change her name for personal reasons as long as the change is not intended to defraud creditors or is not for another fraudulent reason. If a parent wishes to change her last name, she may also apply to change the last names of her minor children. The court will consider whether the name change is in the best interest of the child before granting the change. If granted, an amended birth certificate reflecting the change will be issued.