There may be a myriad of reasons that you are wishing to change the name of your minor child. Parents often seek court approval to change a child’s last name so the child will have the same surname “last name” as the other family members. If children grow up with a different name than the rest of their family, they are often embarrassed and confused as to why.
Usually, the request to change a minor’s name is due to one of the following situations or set of circumstances described below:
- A name change is often a part of an adoption proceeding and many states do not require a separate action for the name change. Whether the adoption is a stepparent adoption or an international adoption, the new parents usually want the child to have their family name.
- Child’s Preference
- When a child reaches a certain age in most states, the court considers the child’s preference regarding a name change. The judge will hear from the child on a name change sought by his parents, but a child cannot seek a name change independently until he reaches the age of 18.
- Sometimes parents want to change the name of a minor when the child was given the mother’s surname at birth. If the biological parents marry after the child is born, some states will allow the child’s surname to be changed to the father’s name as part of marriage.
- Marriage is a common reason that parents seek a legal surname change for a minor child. When a mother marries a man who is not her child’s father and decides to take his surname, she often wants her child to take her new last name. Parents want the child to identify as a part of the new family.
- Some people seek to change a child’s last name when they divorce. A woman who resumes the use of her maiden name might prefer that her children have her last name if she is the primary custodian.
- Domestic Abuse
- A victim of domestic abuse might seek a name change for herself and her child to protect them from their abuser. Under these circumstances, some states will allow a minor’s name to be changed as a part of the divorce or protective order proceeding.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means and there are, of course, other reasons people seek to change the name of minors.
What Texas law governs this process?
Texas Family Code, Section 45
Who can initiate this process?
Any parent, managing conservator, or guardian of the minor may file for a legal name change in the county where the minor resides.
When can the process be initiated?
The Petition for Name Change of a Minor can be filed by one of the above-mentioned people at any time that the child is still a minor (under 18 years of age.) If the child is over the age of ten, however, they must consent to the name change too by filing a “consent” form that is attached to the Original Petition.
What if the child’s father/mother doesn’t agree?
If both parents/managing conservators/guardians don’t agree to change the name of the minor child, it is now considered a contested legal issue requiring notice and citation to be given to the party not initiating the action.
Ready to file? Then what happens?
There are a few common steps required for this process and they include:
- File a Petition for Name Change of a Minor (on behalf of the minor) with the district court that the child currently lives in.
- Notify any parent/ managing conservator/guardians of the name change.
- If you know at the beginning that one of the parents/managing conservators/guardians will contest your motion and not sign in agreement, you will need to call the court your motion is set in after it is filed and request a hearing date.
- You will need to have the party contesting the motion served with a copy of filed Petition and you must include Notice of the hearing date as well.
- Attend a name change hearing and request the relief contained in the Petition.
- File an Order granting name change with the county clerk’s office after the Judge signs it.
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If you’re thinking of initiating this process for a child that you are the parent/managing conservator/guardian of then please allow us at THE LAW STORE, LLC to offer assistance to you during the process. Please note that this article is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice and should be read solely as advice. We are offering incredibly competitive prices right now as we just opened our doors for business last week! Stop by one of two convenient located storefronts today or call and schedule an appointment to meet with one of our licensed attorneys right away!
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