By: Northwest Justice Project
Changing a minor child’s name is more difficult than changing your name as an adult. You must follow the procedures outlined above; however, the parents must be given notice. One parent may file the petition and must give notice to the other parent who will have an opportunity to contest the change. Each parent has an equal right to have the child have his or her last name, but when there is a dispute the deciding factor is the child’s best interest. The court will decide whether it is better for the child to have her or his mother’s or father’s surname. Factors that the court will consider are:
1. The child’s preference;
2. Effect of the change of the child’s surname on the child’s relationship with each parent;
3. The length of time the child has had a given name;
4. Degree of community respect associated with the present and proposed surname or any difficulties, harassment or embarrassment that the child may experience from having the present or proposed name.
Children ages 14 and older also must give their permission to change their own names. If both parents agree to the change or if the notified parent fails to appear at the hearing to contest the change, then the name change will generally be granted.
Name changes requested during formal adoption proceedings are generally permitted because the absent natural parent has given up his or her parental rights to the child when they consented to the adoption. Name changes in those cares are normally accomplished as part of the adoption proceedings; a separate action is not required. Not all courts will follow the same procedures. For more information regarding name changes please refer to the following link and seek out guidance from your local courthouse: