Changing your child’s last name after a divorce
If you’ve been through a divorce and would like to change your child’s last name, or your former spouse wants to change your child’s last name, there are some things you should know about the legal process. Read on to find out how you can change your child’s last name, or if the other parent wants to but you object.
If you agree
Simply speaking, it is easiest to change your child’s last name when both parents agree. If you and your former partner are of the same mind, you should both sign the Petition or the Waiver/Consent form.
If your child is younger than 14 and older than seven, the judge will ask your child’s opinion about the change. Your child will also sign the form to change their last name.
If your child is older than 14, they must sign the petition in front of the judge at the hearing. If your child is unable to attend the hearing for some reason, they should sign the form in front of a notary as the document needs to be notarized for the judge to issue the order.
If you don’t agree
If you and the other parent do not agree about the plans for a minor’s name change, it is more of a process. Firstly, you must be the custodial parent in order to further the plan to change the minor’s name. That means you must have joint or sole physical custody to do it.
If you’re a custodial parent but you don’t agree with the other parent. the judge will probably not grant the petition unless:
– The other parent has been ordered to pay child support and hasn’t done so in the last two years AND they have had visitation rights but haven’t visited the child in the last two years.
– The other parent has been convicted of sexual abuse or child abuse and your child or the child’s sibling was the victim.
If the other parent wants to change the name
If you agree to the course of action, sign the petition and you can skip the hearing. However, you cannot change your mind after you have signed the petition.
If you do not agree to the proposed course of action, you must show up at the hearing to object. If you receive notice of the proposed change but do nothing, you lose the right to object as a parent.
If the child wants to change their name
If your child wants to change their last name, they must be older than 14 and get both parents to sign the petition. All of the above conditions still apply. The judge will still look at your support of and involvement in your child’s life when considering any objections you may have to the petition.
There a lot of ins and outs of the legal process, and it can get confusing. When navigating through a name change, consult experts like those at Gucciardo Family Law for professional guidance.
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