Whether you are a stepparent adopting a stepchild or changing your child's last name so that it matches your own, legally changing a child’s name in Texas and across the US. That said, changing a child’s name in Texas requires some formal paperwork to be filed with the court to ensure that the child’s name change will be legally recognized.
Before you begin the process, it is important to also understand what is involved with changing a child’s name in Texas, and what the court will consider before granting the request. Below are some of the most common issues the court will consider before granting a name change of a minor child:
If the name change helps the child identify with their family unit
How long the child's name has been in use
The age and maturity of the child
Whether or not the name change would be convenient for the child or the custodial parent
If there are any concerns regarding parental alienation or the bond between the child and a parent
Whether one parent contests the name change and why
Filing to Change a Child’s Name in Texas
When petitioning the court, it is important to address the above issues and carefully explain why it is in the child’s best interest to grant the name change. You will then file the petition along with a proposed Order Changing the Child's Name and pay the filing fee.
Consent to Change a Child’s Name
For some, the biggest hurdle to overcome will be whether or not you are able to get consent from the other parent. If the other parent has passed away, you will simply attach a copy of the death certificate to the petition. However, if the other parent is alive, and their Texas parental rights have not been terminated, they will need to either agree and sign the petition for name change or they will need to be served. Service can happen a few ways but the most common is by having a sheriff or process server hand deliver the documents to the other parent. It is important to note the even if the other parent is not on the birth certificate, they must be served. If you do not know where the other parent lives, you may have the option to serve them by publication, like a newspaper or online. In addition, you or the person filing the petition will need to hire an Attorney Ad Litem who will represent the rights of the other parent, should you be unable to locate them. Last, you must wait a (mandatory) minimum of 20 days. As you can see, things are a bit more complicated when the other parent does not provide consent and we encourage you to seek legal advice from a family law attorney experienced in how to change a child’s name in Texas.
The Hearing on Changing a Child’s Name in Texas
There are two basic types of hearing. The first is an uncontested hearing and this will happen when the other parent agrees or does not object. However, when someone objects, you must have a hearing before the court. Regardless, at both hearings you must have the following documents prepared when you go to court:
A proposed Order Changing the Name of the Child
A file stamped copy of your previously filed Petition to Change the Name of a Child
A file stamped copy of your previously filed Child's Consent to Name Change if the child is 10 or older
A file stamped copy of the Return of Service form, which documents service on the other parent
A completed Certificate of Last Known Mailing address plus one copy
If you are not a parent, the court order appointing you legal guardian or managing conservator
Once Child’s Name Change Order is Granted
Once the judge grants the order for a name change of a child, you will need to notify the following agencies and, if requested, provide them with a certificate of name change which can be obtained from the court:
Social Security Agency to have a new Social Security card issued for the child
Department of Motor Vehicles if the child has a driver's license
If the child is associated with child support or child custody orders, you must also send a copy to the Bureau of Vital Statistics' Central Record File
At Martin Oostdyk, our Dallas-Fort Worth family law attorneys are experts in changing the name of a child in Texas. We would be happy to have a free 15 minute consultation with you to discuss your unique situation.