How Can I Change My Child Name?

There are a variety of reasons one might want to make to change their child name. A name change could signal the beginning of a new chapter in the life of a person, let go of the name that is associated to it, or change the child’s name to the new stepparents’ names. Whichever reason you choose, you must be aware of the legal procedures is required to have the name of your child legally changed.

Who What, Where, and How Do I apply for a name change?

In the beginning the process, only a parent or guardian or conservator is able to request the name of a child changed. That’s right, children themselves are not able to be able to change their name regardless of whether they wish to. If a child’s name is changed or any other person in general for a legal name change, it will require a the court. Name changes that are not formal are not allowed and cannot be recognized legally.

The process starts by the filing of a petition to change your name. The process must be completed in the county in which the child resides. This means that you cannot receive a name change from any judge in the county and the child has to meet the residency requirements of being in the county.

The conditions of the petition will require crucial information about the name change, such as the reasons behind the request for a name change and the reason why the change is warranted and the “new” name that is requested as the full name and notify the court if there have been any court orders that have been issued previously involving the child whose name you want to change.

What Will it cost?

Although name changes aren’t free, there isn’t a cost for it. There is no set amount of what they will run. This is due to the fact that every county has its own filing cost. It is best to call the district clerk’s office within the county in which you are planning to file with to discover the exact amount. But, the majority of attorneys have that information at their disposal.

If you can’t have an attorney represent you during a name change case or not able to represent yourself solely as a pro se which means without legally-authorized representations, then you can make a statement of inability to Pay Court Costs. You must prove the need for costs to be removed.

What If I have a minor alteration?

There are situations that a parent might make a slight mistake on the birth certificate, like errors in spelling the child’s initial, middle or final name. I’ve met a few people who believe that, even making these minor adjustments it is necessary for a court order to correct the mistakes.

But, this notion isn’t true. Minor changes can be corrected with an amendment to the birth certificate. It is as easy as making a VS-170 form and delivering the form to Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

Consent for Name Changes

The second important aspect of the process for changing the name is consent. That means that or both parties has to give their consent to a name change.

In the beginning, it’s the most efficient and cost-effective method to allow both parents to reach an agreement regarding changes in the child’s name. If you’re the only parent with a petition to change the name of your child it is necessary to inform the other parent about the proposed name change. The only way around this is in the event that an order from a court has legally ended the parents’ parental rights. In this situation the parent who is not the parent in question would not have to be aware of the name change, but would have to meet with any additional conservator or guardian appointed by the court.

If you need to inform your other parent, and you both agree to submit the request together with mutual consent. However, the process becomes more complex and expensive when the parents do not agree. In this scenario the other parent will have to be served with the petition for change of name through a constable sheriff or private process server. In such cases it is recommended to get an experienced lawyer working with a process service. This applies to any parent who is required to sign a legal notice regardless of whether the other parent isn’t named on the birth certificate.

Do My Children Need to agree?

In the case of a minor who is less than 10 years old, a judge does not need the child’s explicit consent to changes in their names. If, however, you have an adult child who is who is older than 10 years old, they need to give their consent to the name change by themselves in order to receive. In most cases, if children give written consent, the name change will be granted without the objection of a parent.

Be aware that any court order regarding children must be determined by matters that are in the “best interests for children.” There are certain elements to consider in name changes as determined as such by Texas Supreme Court as well as other appellate courts within Texas. The elements that are considered include: whether the name changes will allow the child to avoid the embarrassment, anxiety or frustration and so on. Also, if the child has been using that name for a long period of time and what they associate with it, etc. There are numerous aspects to take into consideration when courts are considering changing the identity of a child.

I’m not sure where the other parent is?

If you’re looking to provide legally-binding notice to other parent regarding changing their name, but you are unsure about their location it is possible to send the notice via an online publication such as newspapers, online and so on. In this scenario the other parent is required to be represented by the use of an Attorney Ad Litem, which the parent who is filing the petition must employ. This is also the case for parents who don’t know who the parent is of their child. An attorney ad litem may be required along with a service publication.



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