If you've recently been divorced and have a child with your ex-spouse, you might be wondering whether or not you can change your child's last name. Perhaps your child has your ex-spouse's last name and you'd prefer that not be the case. Unfortunately, getting your child's last name legally changed can be difficult--especially if you don't have consent from the other parent. Either way, you'll need to seek approval from a judge. By following these steps, you'll ensure the best chances of success in changing your child's last name.
1. Talk to Your Ex-Spouse
Start by getting a better feel for your ex-spouse's thoughts on the matter. How opposed is he to the name change? If he's strongly opposed to it, there's probably not much you can do to change his mind. However, if he seems to be on-the-fence about the idea, consider explaining what it would mean to you and how the name change could benefit the child in life. If he ends up agreeing to the name change, you'll still need to seek court approval, but it'll be more of a formality than anything else.
If he still doesn't approve (which is often the case), things are going to be a little more difficult.
2. File a Petition with the Court
To get the legal process of changing your child's last name started, you'll need to file an official petition with the court. To do this, visit the clerk's office located in the county where your divorced was finalized or where your last child custody order was made. From there, you should be able to obtain all the forms you need, in addition to a court summons that you'll have to serve to your ex-spouse. Once you've filled out and returned the paperwork, you should be notified of your scheduled court date.
3. Gather Evidence to Present
Your best chance of successfully having your child's last name change will be to prove that your ex-spouse hasn't played a significant role in your child's life up until this point. Therefore, if you have evidence that your ex has missed child support payments or proof that he hasn't spent much time with your child, be sure to bring this to your court date. Furthermore, if your child is a teenager and agrees with the name change, ask him or her to write a letter to the court expressing this; then, have it notarized and bring it to your court date.
Talk to your divorce lawyer to get started in the name-changing process.