Mother and child walking through a park.

How Do I Change My Child’s Last Name?

At some point, you may want to change your child’s last name. It might be simply due to some type of change in preference or family circumstances. In some cases, a parent may seek to have a minor’s name change after a divorce. Whatever the reason, in order to change your minor child’s name in the state of Florida, you will need to receive judicial approval through the court system.

Changing Your Child’s Last Name

To change your minor child’s last name, you must file a petition for a name change (minor child) with the court. Before you can have or request a hearing on your petition, however, you must be fingerprinted for purposes of submitting to a state and federal criminal background check. This background check is required in every child name change case, unless you are seeking restoration of a child’s former last name. Your fingerprint card must be attached to your name change petition. Once you have submitted your fingerprints to the Department of Law enforcement, and the clerk of court has received the background check results, then you may be scheduled for a hearing.

In some cases, both of a child’s parents will consent to the name change and live in the county where the name change is being sought. If this is the case, then both of you may file the required paperwork and then a hearing will be set. In other cases, both parents may consent to the name change, but only one parent lives in the county where the name change is being sought or only one parent will file the petition for name change. In these cases, the other parent must be notified of the name change and you must obtain the other parent’s written consent to the name change. The completed Consent for Change of Name (Minor Child) must be submitted to the court.

As you can see, when both parents agree to a name change for their minor child, the process is relatively easy. When one parent opposes a name change for the minor child, however, things become much more complicated. You are still within your rights to go ahead and file a name change petition with the court. The other parents must be notified regarding your petition via formal service of process and the hearing once it is scheduled. Should the whereabouts of the other parent be unknown to you, then you will need to go through the process of constructive service which involves publishing notice in a local paper in the area of last known residence.

In the event of a contested name change, if the parent contesting the name change fails to appear at the hearing, then the court may grant a default judgment granting the name change. If both parents appear at the hearing, the judge will need to weight the arguments for and against the name change. Should the judge grant the name change, you will want to get several certified copies of the order. You will need these copies in order to make the name change official on various identification documents.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

The matters involved in family law are often sensitive and complicated. At Orlando Family Team, our experienced attorneys have a thorough understanding of family law issues as well as the many nuances that can end up having significant impacts on the outcome of a case. For help with any of your family law needs, contact us today.