How To Change Your Child's Name

In NYC - Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, Staten Island, and Manhattan

It is not uncommon for parents to seek a name change for a child. Whether it be due to divorce, religious reasons, preference, or any other reason, you will likely have to follow the traditional name change process, with a few additional steps described below. Before your file your petition, it is important to understand who the law considers a "child", who is legally permitted to petition the court to change the name of a child, and the legal consequences of changing your child's name.

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What are the reasons for changing your childs name?

A child's name can be changed for nearly any reason as long as the intent is not illegal, criminal, fraudulent or with the purpose of dodging financial obligations. Common reasons that parents change children's names are:

  • Dislike of present name;
  • To correct an error or spelling mistake entered on the child's birth certificate;
  • To have the child's name reflect their stepfather's name due to remarriage after divorce;
  • To have the minor's name reflect their mother's maiden name after divorce;

Who is considered a child?

A minor child is someone that is younger then 18 years old.

Who can request a name change for children?

A name change for a child can be requested by the child's biological or adoptive parent or a legal guardian. However, it is important to note that a legal name change does not result in an adoption, and as such, it does not make one's current spouse a defacto legal parent. If such is the intention, it is best to consult with an attorney experienced in adoptions.

Either parent may commence a petition to change the child's name, however, the court will typically require written consent from the other living biological or adoptive parent or legal guardian. However, this step is unneccessary if the others parental rights have been terminated.

What if I can't locate the child's other parent?

If you do not know where the other parent resides, you must take affirmative steps to locate them. If after careful diligence you are unable to locate the other parent, the judge may request an explanation as to the steps that you've taken and the reasoning as to why the parent cannot be located.

However, if you know the address of the other parent, you will need to provide them with notice and an opportunity to object to the court (if they desire to object). A notice to non-petitioned parent will need to be issued to the non-filing parent.

Lastly, if the non-petitioning parent is a minor (age 17 or less), then written consent must be obtained from their parent or legal guardian.

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Is a child required to consent to a name change?

Maybe. Some court's will require children that are 14-years old or older to agree to a name change by signing a Minor Consent Form in the pressence of a notary public. The completed form must be included when filing the petition.

Court Hearing for Changing a Minor's Name

As an essential part of the hearing, the judge will determine whether a name change is in the child's best interest. The judge will take into account the child's:

  1. age,
  2. experience,
  3. personal preference,
  4. length of time the name was in use,
  5. the potential effect on the child's relationship with each parent,
  6. any embarrassment caused to the child by the prior name, or by the future use of the new name.

Additionally, the court will inquire about the motives of the parents in seeking to change the child's name.

Name Change Lawyers NYC

Obtaining a name change for a minor child in New York City is not necessarily easy. Call our skilled legal team to learn how we can help you petition the court to change your child's name. Hiring an experienced attorney can help simplify the process and avoid unecessary delays that could result from incomplete petitions and improperly completed paperwork.

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