It’s not uncommon for marriages today to involve step-parents and step-children. Many times the step-parent is the only father or mother figure in a child’s life and some families make the decision to change the last name of a step-child so that the entire family shares the same last name. Changing the name of a minor is not overly complicated, but it is wise to consult an experienced attorney to help you navigate this process.

An application for a name change for a minor may be filed by the minor’s parent or parents, guardian, or guardian ad litem. This application can be joined with another application if one of the parents are also seeking a name change. Unless the child is born out of wedlock and has not been legitimized, and there has been no acknowledgement of paternity by the father, parental consent by both living parents is typically required for a name change of a minor.

The first step to acquiring a name change is to file an application in the county where the minor resides. A name change for a minor differs from an ordinary name change in that the applicant is not required to post a 10-day notice at the courthouse door of his or her intent to file an application. But there are a few counties that still require the 10-day notice for a minor’s name change so you will need to consult with an attorney to determine the requirements of your specific county.

Once it is time to file the application, the application must include the applicant’s name, county of birth, date of birth, name of parents as shown on birth certificate, name the applicant wants name changed to, reason for the name change request, and whether the applicant’s name has been changed before. After the application is properly filed, the Clerk will hold a hearing and determine if a good and sufficient reason exists for the name change. Typically, unless the hearing is contested, the clerk will enter an order changing the minor’s name. Once the order is entered, the Clerk will forward a copy of the order to the State Registrar for Vital Statistics. It could take up to two months for the State Registrar to process the new birth certificate.

While a name change is not overly complicated, it can be overwhelming for someone who is not familiar with the legal process or dealing with the local clerk of court. No matter what the personal reason is, a name change can bring unity and peace to a family member that does not currently share the same last name as their parents or step-siblings. If you are considering a name change, please contact Ludlum Law Firm for a free consultation and give us the opportunity to use our knowledge and expertise to help guide you through this important process.