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Father's Right to Change His Child's Name

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

A father has the right to change the name of his child if he can establish that he is, in fact, the legal father. A legal father simply refers to the father with custodial rights to make decisions regarding the child.

Who Has the Right to Name a Child?

Both parents have the right to name their children. If either you or the other parent want to change your child's name, you both have to agree to the change. If the other parent refuses to give consent, then you need to get approval from the court.

Reasons for Changing a Child's Name

A father may want to change the name or the surname of his child for a number of reasons such as when they adopt a child or establish paternity.

In cases where the child is born out of wedlock, the child often gets the mother's last name. But if paternity is established, both parents have the right to petition the court to change the child's last name. After the name change, the court will issue a new birth certificate with the changed name.

Adoptive parents also have a right to change the name and last name of their adopted child. This usually happens at the end of the adoption hearing. At the end of the hearing, the judge will ask the parents what name they would like to give their child. The court will then issue a new birth certificate that reflects the change.

How Can I Change My Child's Last Name?

If you want to change your child's name, the first step you need to take is to file a petition with the family court in your county requesting the change. You are obligated to notify the other parent and give them the opportunity to respond to your petition.

The court may ask both parents to appear and present their arguments. The court considers multiple factors when deciding whether it is within the best interests of the child to change their name. These include:

  • How the name change will affect the child
  • How the name change will affect the child's relationship with their parents
  • Why you want to change the child's name
  • How the child feels about the name change

Remember, state laws might vary regarding name change requirements and procedures. You should, thus, check your local laws to ensure you comply.

Additional Resources

Want to Know Your Options for Changing the Name of Your Child? Talk to an Attorney

As a father, you have a right to have a say in important decisions involving your children. Naming your child and giving them your last name are among these decisions. If you want to change your child's name or want to know more about the process, consider speaking to a family law attorney.

Next Steps

Contact a qualified family law attorney to make sure your rights are protected.

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