Can I Change My Child’s Last Name After Divorce? 51

Changing a Dependent Minor’s Last Name

Name Change Kit (from US Legal Forms)While it’s not written in stone, and there are exceptions, courts often don’t change a minor’s last name after a divorce. There are exceptions to this rule of course, and in these cases courts may grant the custodial parent’s request to change the child’s last name. In order to request a name change for a minor you must submit a formal name change request to the court.

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The court will often consider allowing you to change your child’s last name if the child is adopted by a step-parent, or if the biological father (or mother) has terminated his (or her) parental rights. You may also be able to change your child’s last name if the father (or mother) shows no interest in maintaining a relationship with the child or has been abusive and/or exhibited criminal behavior.

The bottom line is that in order to have your child’s name changed, the court has to consider it to be in the best interest of the child. You generally may not change the child’s name simply because you and your spouse are getting divorced. Minors’ name changes – when they are done – are generally done in a separate legal action (not as part of the divorce case itself).

If the court does grant a name change, this in and of itself does not terminate the non-custodial parent’s rights to visitation or his/her obligation for child support. These issues would need to be addressed in a separate custody or support modification hearing.

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Discussion

  • Lou

    what happens when a child has used the mothers name since she could speak and is now 14 to be 15 in April. the past court papers state she has used the mothers maiden name they have not forced us to stop. now the minor wishes to change it legally. the bio father was going to sign papers years ago but the new wife talked him out of it… can the minor petition the court to change her name???????

  • Tiphanie

    My daughter was born with my last name. when she was one i married her father and changed her name. Now sheis two and we just finalized our divorce. Can i change it legally if it was her birth name?

  • misty

    My ex husband has been in and out of jail for the last 8 years, and at his choice has had virtually no contact with any of my three children until his most recent incarseration. My children (9,11,15) do not want to use his last name. They remember his violence, and his currnet incarceration punctuates that even further. Most of the charges against him have been for drugs and viloence against police. My current husband is their “daddy” and will remane so. Do I have enough grounds in the state of Oregon to petition the courts for a change of last name for all three children to my current married name?

    • cindy allen

      Just curious, We’re in the same situation with 2 of our did you ever find out any information on this, or how you went about it?

  • wonderousmomma

    I have a two year old daughter. I was thinking about changing her last name from her so-called father last name to mine. Her father has not been in her life and has not once helped me out with her. He however has his name on her birth cert.and he signed her paperwork but he doesn’t acknowledge her as his. I was wondering if it is possble for me to do so?

  • Patricia

    I have a three year old son that has my last name. his bio father has never contacted him and could care less about him. His real dad, that has been with him since he was 9 months, and i are planning on getting married and our other children all have his last name and was wondering if it would be really hard to change my son’s last name to my fiance’s? I live in Washington State.

  • Curious

    My son is almost 5 years old. I legally separated from his father when our son was 11 months old and then finalized a divorce. My ex husband is in the military…. for the first 5 months of my sons life his father was overseas. We then lived together as a family for 6 months. My son is a jr. to his fathers name, his father has maybe spent 3 and a half days with his father since I legally separated from him. His father lives half way across the country from us and by me making numerous attempts he still does not try and contact our son. The only thing I receive is child support due to the military handling it. My son goes by his middle name, not his legal first name (always has since he was born). I want to change his first name to his middle name (what he is always called), change is middle name and add my last name in with his fathers last name. Is this possible in the state of Kansas?

  • tmr

    My daughter is seventeen, and she recently lost her biological father….paternity was never established, but she would like to change her last name to his. How do we do this?

  • kim

    I am divorcing my husband. my husband has raised my 17 yr son since he was 18 mnths refused to adopt him my son has my legal maiden name. my 13 yr son was born befor my husband and I married but I put my husbands name on birth cirtificate. can I change my sons last name so that all 3 of us have the same name. les confusing as I have costody.

  • Ali

    I left my ex husband before our son was born, he had nothing to do with our son for 18 months, on the birth certificate I gave him my last name, which is also my current husbands and our daughters. I gave my ex the chance to add his last name, but he has not done so, that was 7 months ago, what are my chances of keeping his legal name the same as mine?

    • Grumpy

      This question makes no sense..what kind of time line is this?

  • Lynn

    The father of my son left when I was first pregnant. He wanted nothing to do with us until I filed to terminate his rights. He is now petitioning the court to have my son’s last name, same as mine, changed to his. What are the laws, if any, to protect my son from name change. He has shared legal custody but only visitation 6 times a year. I live in Nevada.

  • Robin

    My daughter is 12 yrs. old. Her father (my x-husband) passed away 2 1/2 years ago. We have lived with my “significant other” for 3 1/2 yrs. She is wanting to take his last name? Can she do this even though we are not married?

    • Robin

      By the way, we live in West Virginia.

  • Amanda

    I have a 3 year old daughter, her father and I got divorced this past November. He is in legal trouble, having to do with posession of child pornography, dissemination of child pornography, a computer hacking charge. There is also a very definite chance that he took pornographic pictures of my daughter and shared them online. I am going to be changing my name back to my maiden name (I originally kept his last name) and I would like to change my daughter’s last name to mine. He has not seen her since early November before his arrest, and he most likely will not be able to see her for quite some time.
    Do you think I have grounds to make this name change? We live in Maine.

  • Lindsey

    I am from ohio. My brother has a 7 month old son by someone who was still married but separated from her husband. The baby has her married last name but is not her husbands. A paternity test was done and its my brothers. How does he go about getting the babys last name changed?

  • Colin

    I live in the UK as do my former wife and my adopted daughter. I have been divorced for about 30 years and I lost touch with my former wife and our adopted daughter about 25 years ago. I now know (because I have been searching for her) that my adopted daughters surname was changed without my knowledge- What are the laws concerning this?

  • trina

    I wanted to no if I can change my son last name. his father is not in his life n I have full custody of my son.

  • Joey

    My ex-wife had her boyfriend kidnap our child and took the child to another state because a court order forbids the ex-wife from removing the child out of our home state.

    I hired a private investigator for the past three years to attempt to locate our child and recently found my child and my ex-wife, living with her boyfriend. I also contacted the schools in the county and found out that my child is not listed under his real name for the school registry.

    Is it possible or legal to change a child’s first and last name by lying to the courts and not notifying the other parent? I have the birth records and photo identification to prove this child is mine and the child’s true identity.

    How can I find out if there has been a name change or adoption without any notice given to me as the father of the child?

    Mother attempted to lie to the courts and filed false police reports of domestic abuse and violence as well as a false restraining order. All were dismissed in my state and she fled with the child.

    Now she is attempting to do the same false filings again, even after 3 years of no contact because she took and hid our child from me. There have never been any record of abuse against me or towards her or my child, even the courts have ordered her four times to date to allow me my parenting rights, yet she continues to refuse me to be a part of my child’s life.

    Her boyfriend admitted to having sex with the child in the bed and this may play a very big role in why she is so determined to not allow me any contact with my child. I think they are afraid that if it is found out, she would lose custody and her boyfriend would be charged with child sex abuse.

    Any ideas or suggestions? It is hard to get people on your side when you cannot find your own child and I am not expecting anyone to take sides, only consider the best interest of our child.

    I strongly feel that sexual abuse is not the best interest of any child and hiding the child from the other parent just for vengeance or revenge is also child abuse. My child’s mother told me that she does not need to give me any reason as to why she will not allow me to see my child; only that she will not allow it, regardless of many enforcement orders.

    • Beth

      Wow, I am so sorry to hear your parenting issues. Well my best advice to you is the squeaky wheel gets the attention!!! If you have to call your State Senior then please get on the phone or write a letter. There are so many things you could do to cause attention to your case. I am in the process of getting sole custody of my son from his father who likes to play 10 to 13 hours or Video Games a DAY. My little doggy seems to be more of a responsible father than his bio father. I really love to hear fathers such as yourself who really want to be responsible parents. Please don’t give up hope. There is so much you can and could do. Shine the spot light on her, ( give her the attention she doesn’t want)!!!!

  • Wiseguy

    all comments from women….deviant vindictive scornful women…lol you make me sick. Even if dad isnt in the picture that name should live on through generations!….Thats why we have names!!! dumbasses! Its not just the “daddy” name your trying to disregard its the “family name” your saying you dont want to be a part of! In italian tradition if you did that you would have your insides gutted out! *spew* you all disgust me!

    • Camille

      Wiseguy,
      You are not so wise at all. In fact you are in my opinion, an imbicile. You obviously do not have a clue as to what in the hell you are talking about, so please do not speak of what you do not know. My son’s father has had nothing to do with him in 14 years. I gave my son my name in the hospital and then his father was allowed to go change it without my permission and now I am not being allowed to change it back. My son was never supposed to have this persons name. My son’s father has never made any attempt to contact him although he has known his whereabouts since he was born..and this is someone who deserves to have his name carried on? Take your uninformed and ridiculous opinion and shove it. This is not one of those situations where I want it changed because I am angry with him, or I have a new man for this week and want to change my childs name every time a new man waltzes into my life like some women do. My son was never supposed to have his fathers name.

      • Telly

        Uh, I have to agree with WiseGuy here. Your son was never supposed to have his father’s name? And who decided that? You? Fortunately, regardless of how involved the sperm donor was, the child get’s the surname of the father and he chose to contest it. What you, and yes, you DO sound vindictive, want is besides the point.

      • gabes mom

        ha wiseguy heres one for you, my now 14 yr old son who was givin his bio’s last name at birth has asked to have his name changed to his dads, aka stepdad , we have not heard nor seen his bio in over 7 yrs when at that time he refused to b tested for bone marrow to save our sons life, in the end gabe did not need the marrow , but to thnk his bio refused and then could gripe over my sons choice at 14 to take on the name of the man who has raised him , HIS DAD IN EVERYSENSE BESIDES SPERM DONATION

    • just me

      Wiseguy
      You really shouldn’t even be responding. Not only is the father’s name a possibility of living on for generations, so is the mother’s. If the father is an imbecile, as you seem to be, he doesn’t deserve to have his name live on. That is true, it is why we have names, so they can be carried on through the generations, and the child might as well have a name to be proud of, NOT just because the father, or sperm donor, or whoever, has the so called “right” to have his name live on. Yes, family names…women have family names as well. Not sure if you’re just too pig headed to see this or what.

    • Phillysgirl

      Your obviously not a clear minded person…. I was married at 18, had 6 children with him and fought for our lives because this man abused us horribly…. He did so much more than I can even explain including poisoning, stalking and after I finally got him out of my home, my children revealed sexual abuse!!…… So…. Explain why this animal who doesnt deserve to live … Should have his name passed down????? YEAH… Your an idiot!… There are some really selfish woman who want to change te child’s name because they are selfish or vindictive…. But the courts see through that and if there was NO good reason then they are not permitted!!! If a father wants his kids to keep his name then he should b a real man, not a loser…. If he has been a father to them, the courts will make the kids keep his name…. Only idiots that should worry are those who should worry!!!!

  • Manda

    My 13 year old son want’s to change his last name… his last name is Rape, the kids at school give him a hard time and he come’s home crying because he got into yet another fight when the school bully called him a rapist… he doesn’t want to change it to anything to dramatic he want’s to change the spelling to Rapay. I have talked with his father about this and he said it’s good for our son to get into fights it builds character… I disagree, it’s been two years and my son still come’s home with black eyes, I’ve talked to the school’s and they promise to take care of it and the bullying is still going on. I live in Oklahoma what right’s does my son have to change his name without his fathers consent and how do I go about it? Any advise would help I was young when I had my son and my ex told me I had to give our son his last name by law… I should have known better.

    • kat

      Manda, petition the court and tell them what is happening to your child. They will probably ask to speak to the child as well in the judges chambers, in this case they will probably grant the request. It is all about what is at the best interest of the child

      • kat

        Manda, the father may even get into trouble if you present the case with the right attorney … his attitude about its good for the child to get beat up daily is ignorant.

  • sam

    i have two girls with a merry woman and i want to know how to change their last names and put me in the birth certificate as the father what should i do? i live in atlanta,ga.

  • Tiffany

    I am wondering how I can go about changing my son’s name. His biological father only started to pay child support last year and my son is now nine years old. When I had my son his father was abusive to me and has had many criminal charges against him. How can I change his last name to mine and how much does it cost?

  • Oregon Mother

    I would like to know if I have to have the consent of the father of my 3 yr old in order to change my son’s last name to mine. His father and I were never married, and only lived together until my son was 11 months. His father does have parenting time as designated through Multnomah County Courts in Oregon and has been paying child support. I am the custodial parent and primary care giver while his father has parenting time. It seems pretty straight forward to file all the name change documents with the Circuit Court but the instructions indicate “it can be a simple process if no one objects”. Do I need to present my reasons to the Court if he objects to my application to change the name? Can a non-custodial parent block my request to change the name? What is the likelihood that the Court would not allow me to make this change.

    • kat

      Oregon mother, he has every right to contest that request. The court will probably not allow the change without his consent but I understand why you would want the child to have the same name as yours I am a mother myself. It is worth the shot…

  • Missy

    I’d like to say to the d*ckheads that think a child should keep their fathers name need to shut there mouths. My children and I were abused by my ex for years. And when we finally were able to get out he gave me full custody of them. Does not contact them except for 2 years ago when he told them he was going to kill all of us. They are so afraid of him they wake up in the middle of the night with bad dreams. They won’t go to sleep unless all doors and windows are locked. None of them want his last name. So you tell me he deserves my kids to carry on his last name after abusing them. No I don’t think so now I have to fight the Nj courts to allow a name change without him because he can’t be found. This is not fair to frightened kids that want a different name to feel safer.

  • irena

    I would like to add my last name to my babies name. Now they have their father’s last name only. Is it possible to do and where do I start?

  • Jazzmin

    I am getting a divorce and my son’s father wants to give up all of his rights. I was thinking about taking my maiden name back but I do not want to if I can not change my son’s as well. My question is though that if I can change his, what will have to be redone. Other then his social security card. What else?

  • Jill

    My situation is more like a birth certificate case. He has never been in her life for any significant amount of time on a regular basis. She is 11 now. We live in seperate states. She has asked to have her name changed to me and my husbands last name. I don’t think her bio-dad will be okay with it. But then again he does want to stop going to jail for child support warrents.

  • Tim

    I am the biological of a six year old son. His mother and I had a relationship for 8 years.At brth she gave him her last name because she was living with er dad, and he told her as long as she lived there my son would have his last nam. I know how bizarre, and controling. The issue is she was always going to have it changed if I married her, however I could never trusther because on substance abuse and emotional issues. I supplied a place to lve and paid for everything. Know she is with a third guy since we split, and I want my son to have my last name, which he says he wants. We have join custody and I wnat to have the name changed. I have always been in his lfe and support them in all ways. what steps do I needto take?

    • kat

      Tim, without her consent you have to petition the court. They may or may not allow the change. It is up to the judge.

  • kat

    there is no legal way to change their name. Infact there is no way to even visit these children, unless she lets you and her husband consents. When a woman is married her husband is legally the father no matter what.

  • kat

    Irene ..yes but you have to petition the court to have their name hyphenated or get the fathers consent. If he is okay with it all you have to do is print to have the change done on the birth certificate. There are forms you can download. Change it how you two agree and the both of you sign and send copies of both drivers licenses. takes about 6 weeks to get new birth certificate then take to social security office and change it there.

  • kat

    Jazzmin, his birth certificate has to be done before the ssn..but before that he has to give up his rights. after that submit that with a form from your states vital record dept with the current info on his birth cert. and the way you want it to read. you can completely remove the fathers info and change the childs name how you want it. then go to the social security office after you receive the new certificate of birth. then you are done

  • kat

    just info…fathers do not automatically have the right to have the child’s last name changed after paternity is established. The child is their child no matter the last name. It is confusing to the child once they are old enough to learn their name to have to learn a new last name. The court doesnt always allow the change, it is always what is at the best interest of the child. Arrogance and ignorance of the fathers that believe they NEED to have their last name is now turning a child into a possession. That is wrong. To the mothers that want to change their childs surname because their child wants it to be different for whatever reason. You have the right to hire an attorney and try if the father wont agree but really once a name is established it will be difficult to change. Just let your children know when they are 18 they can change it to anything they want to with no one’s consent. Just file with the court at that point and it will be done.

  • jo

    Can my 14 year old change his last name to my new married name without having to have permission from his biological father?

    His father changed his own last name & my son doesn’t want to have that name nor does he want the last name he has always used because he doesn’t want to have a name that no one in his family has .

    We live in Alabama

  • Kristie

    Recently I married my boyfriend of 8 years, he has 2 children one in Indiana the other in Maine. he has a very good relationship with the one in Indiana..we live a short distance from her and we see and spend time with her every weekend.Unfortunately the one daughter in Maine living so far away,he never sees her . He has faithfully Paid his child support on both children .but has never demanded his visitation rights for the child that lives in Maine, basically just going along with what the childs mother wanted to avoid confrontation. She has remarried again ,four times and every boyfriend or husband she ever gets they refer to him as Dad to this little girl who is now fifteen .Recently the child told her Grandmother that now her name was the same as her stepfather and her mother..Can This be true .? Could they have legally changed her name without my husbands knowledge? He is her paternal parent . He is listed as her biological father,he has always payed child support for her. And it was at her mothers request years back that it would confuse her to stay at a strange place ,or he could visit with her at the Grandparents home ,but for him not to leave with her , inferring he couldn’t take care of her . Her Grandmother told me the child had no knowledge of her father ever paying any child support , and that he was never there for her . How can we find out if her Mother has legally changed her name ? If they did what can we do about it ?

  • J.

    I have been paying child support as per a divorce decree (from California). The decree states that I am obligated until my children are 18 and out of high school. They are both over 19 and in college. I am also a disabled Vet (100%) and because of this my children get their tuition paid and also receive a monthly living stipend. I continue to pay monthly child support (current as of July 2012) because of implied threats from the ex that a request for additional or longer child support will be filed. I am in Maine, the ex is in Ohio. Despite having never missed a single payment, I have not been permitted to have communications or visits (as per the decree) for the past decade. I have not been privy to their educational standings, community involvements, health and welfare or any other aspect of their lives unless it was for additional funds. Am I still obligated to pay past what the divorce decree states? Thank you for any assistance.

  • PFP

    I’m in my 40′s now but was the child back in the day who had their last name changed after my mother divorced. The judge reluctantly granted it using the logic that since I was female I would one day get married and change my last name anyway. That was in 1969. Please keep in mind that even if all the above stories are true about these horrible fathers, every time you talk about how awful he is in front of your kids you are basically telling them that they’re awful too, because the kids know they have half the guy’s DNA. And the last name doesn’t just symbolize their father, but also all the generations of ancestry before him, which they are still a product of whether he’s a horrible person or not. The kids are minors now and can’t see the situation with adult eyes yet, but may feel differently 20 or 30 years from now. It’s not your decision to make but your child’s when they’re adults and can make their own decisions with a clear head. I understand my mother’s reasons for doing what she did, especially in the late 1960′s when the divorce rate was a lot lower than it is now, but she was only thinking about my life as a child and not an adult. I went back to my birth name when I was in my 30′s and it wasn’t easy to do to get my birth certificate re-issued in my original name. Good or bad, you picked the guy to make a baby with. If he was a dangerous person and you got yourself away, good for you. But please consider leaving the name alone.

    • Julie

      After 25 years of marriage, I am divorcing my children’s father after I found out he had committed incest. We have an unusual last name, and I don’t want my children to be stigmatized and further shamed by continued association, so we are changing it. By the way, I didn’t know that my husband was a pervert when I married him. He is charismatic, a great manipulator, and hid his true self from me and many others.

  • sweet 16

    I am a sixteen year old girl. Whoes dad has been in and out of my life for as long as I can remember. I want to legally change my last name to my mom madain name. And if and when I get married my last name would Chang any way so I see no reason in keeping it for the next generation because I have two brothers who can pass down the name. My mom consents, my sperm doner as I call him, probably won’t consent. Is there any way around that?

  • James

    I’m 41, and have a beautiful 6 year old little girl, my exwife has 2 more kids with a man she has been living with since we split up. Now my baby was asking questions about why they had different last names , my ex’s response was we can change your last name if you want to! I get get my baby girl every chance I get and I pay my child support and was never abusive we just couldn’t get along. I hope to God no judge would change my daughters last name for a reason like that?! I live in Texas

  • Kaia

    When I was younger, my mother married someone who is not my father. Subsequently, she changed my last name to theirs. Years later she divorced and remarried someone else (again changing her name). I still carry the name of my first step dad, whom I have not spoken to in 12 years. I am now 25 and will not be getting married anytime soon. Am I able to change my name to either of my bio parent’s maiden names?