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.
Downloadable Name Change Forms
(from US Legal Forms, starting at $27.95)
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.