Love and pregnancy get complicated at times. For one reason or another, parents are not always married at the time of a child's birth. A baby can end up with the last name of the mother in these cases. Subsequently, the parents may decide that it is best for the baby to have the father's last name.
Tennessee offers ways for parents who were not married at the time of their baby's birth to change the baby's name afterward. Working with the Tennessee Department of Vital Records and your local county court, you can change your baby's name.
Name Change on Birth Certificate Due to Marriage of the Parents
Get married. Tennessee mandates that your marriage meet certain requirements to change the baby's name on the birth certificate through this method. If the mother was married to a man other than the biological father, that man's name must be removed from the birth certificate by court order. Also, the biological father cannot already be listed on the birth certificate prior to the marriage of the biological parents -- a name change in this case must be done by court order.
Complete the Application For New Certificate Of Birth By Subsequent Marriage Of Parents. Fill out this form (see Resources) using black ink. Put the information from the baby's original birth certificate in Section I. Section II is affidavits of both parents that the man being placed on the new birth certificate is the father of the child. This section must be notarized. In Section III, complete the information for the new birth certificate. The baby's first and middle name cannot be changed by this method -- only the last name.
Send the application and supporting documents to the Tennessee Office of Vital Records. Use the address listed on the application. Along with your application, you will need to include a certified copy of your marriage certificate if you were married outside of Tennessee. If you were married in Tennessee any time in the last 50 years, you can send the time and location of your wedding or a certified copy of your marriage certificate.
Pay the fees for a new Tennessee birth certificate. Find the current fee information on the form in the Instructions section. Fees must be paid by check or money order. Once the application has been received and processed a new birth certificate with the baby's new name will be issued and certified copies sent to you.
Name Change by Court Order
Get the agreement of the other parent. Both parents must agree before a baby's name can be changed in Tennessee. If the father is present but not listed on the birth certificate, it must be added. Contact the Tennessee Department of Health, Vital Records (see Resources) for a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. Complete the form and submit it to the Tennessee Department of Health. Once you have received a new certified copy of the birth certificate, you can proceed. If you cannot locate the father, you must serve notice of your intention to change your baby's name to the father by placing an ad in the Notices section of the newspaper in the last known location of the father.
Complete a petition to change the baby's name. Check with your county court's web site or with your county's court clerk for a petition form. Law libraries or Legal Aid may also have copies of a petition or use an example to create your own (see Resources).
File the petition along with supporting documents in the appropriate Tennessee court. This will typically be a county court -- contact your county court clerk for information on the court in your area. In addition to the petition, you will need supporting documents. Include copies of the birth certificate of the child and both parents, Social Security cards of the child and both parents, picture ID of both parents and a picture of the child.
Appear in court. Both parents and the child must appear. If one parent cannot be located, the other parent must show that he or she has made an effort to locate the missing parent. Include details on whatever information you have on the missing parent, such as last known address or relatives' names. Once you have appeared in court, the judge will approve the name change if it is in the best interest of the child.
Consult a lawyer or your local Legal Aid for best results.
This article is for general information purposes and not designed to replace the advice of an attorney.
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