Can You Change Your Child’s Last Name After Divorce?

When you get married, it is not uncommon for one spouse to take the last name of the other spouse. As you have children, you likely gave that last name to them. Many people will often return to their surname once they get divorced. However, the children tend to keep their last name. In some cases, the partner who returned to their own last name may want to change their children's last name to match. If you are in this situation and you want to change your child's last name to yours, here are some things you should know about:

Should You Change Your Child's Last Name?

The question of whether or not you should change your child's last name is going to vary between couples. This can be problematic for some children, especially if they are older and have been using their current last name for their entire lives. Changing their last name from that of their other parent can also be emotional and upsetting, especially amidst the turmoil of a divorce. It may feel like yet another difficult change they have to go through.

At the end of the day, you have to request permission from the court to change a child's last name. This process is different in each state but is handled in a similar manner. You must file a petition to change your child's surname. Then you have to inform your former spouse that you are petitioning to change the child's last name. A judge will not entertain a name change if both parents are not notified. You must give the child's other parent the opportunity to challenge the petition if they wish to do so.

Does Your Custody Situation Make a Difference?

Custody does not typically make a difference when it comes to changing a child's last name. A parent who has full legal custody of a child does not necessarily mean that parent will be successful in getting the child's name changed. The other parent can still challenge the petition.

How Is the Decision Made?

Once you file a petition to change your child's last name, the court will first look at the relationship with each parent. If the judge determines the child has a good and ongoing relationship with the other parent, they may not be willing to rule in your favor to change the name. If there is any manipulation involved or if the judge believes you are changing the name to be spiteful, it likely is not going to go in your favor. However, if your child's parent is absent from their lives and is not acting in the role of parent, and you can provide proof of that, you may have a more favorable outcome.

For more information, contact a company like Brabazon Law Office, LLC.