Changing a Child’s Last Name in Arizona
How To Change Your Child’s Last Name In Arizona
First, you need to know that you can do this. You can.
If your child lives here now, you can Apply for Name Change. To legally change your child’s last name, or the first or middle names (or all of them at the same time) learn what you need to do, below. Then take the first step, then the next step, and so on. In a few months time, this will be done properly and behind you. Now, that’s something to look forward to with a smile, right?
This will tell you the steps, the costs, and enough about the process so you can get started with some confidence. When you’re done, and have an Official Arizona name change document, you can get your child’s new ID and Official Records updated with school, social security, passport and birth certificate.
Can I Legally Change My Child’s Last Name?
To officially change a name with school, social security, passport office or other government agency, you must first get a Certified Copy of an Order Changing Name of Minor. That document is a type of court order you get after successfully completing the Application and Hearing process in Superior Court. A court clerk will Certify a Copy of your Order Changing Name after your judge signs it at the courthouse. You take that Certified Copy of a properly prepared name change court order to each place, and they will update your Child’s Legal Name in their records.
The difference between legal name change and informally changing a name (sometimes called Usage, or Common Law name change), is the legal Application and approval process. When you go through the court process, you end up with a name change court order. Government offices must obey that name change document. Without a court order, honoring the new name is elective and not mandatory.
The Child Name Change Petition Process in Arizona
An Application for Change of Name for a Minor Child is a court form. It’s one of a collection of Arizona Superior Court forms that are collectively called a Name Change Petition or Application. These are the official documents to properly complete and file if you want begin the process to legally change your child’s last name, or any part of your child’s name.
Step 1: Prepare your Application – Get the name change forms to change a child’s name for the Superior Court in the County where your child live’s now. Or, look for them online. (Hint: ask if there are any additional “local” forms you need to complete also.
Step 2: File Your Application – Complete all the forms correctly, sign them in the required spots, and make an extra copy of each page, two extra copies of the Application. Take it all to the Civil Filing window at the Superior Court and pay them the filing fee (or turn in a completed hardship Request to defer or waive court fees). Upon acceptance, you’ll be given a Case Number. (Hint: Budget a couple of hours for this, in case your Application isn’t right.
Step 3: Notices, Consents, Services – Take your completed Notice of Hearing Regarding Application for Name Change and have the Hearing details filled out by a designated court employee (if it wasn’t done by the filing clerk). Obtain and file completed Consent(s), Proof(s) of Service, Request for Publication, Proof of Publication to the extent those actions are required in your case (variables are age of child, consent and whereabouts of other parent(s), your legal status, etc.).
Step 4: Hearing, Order Changing Name, Certified Copy – Take a complete set of your filed documents to your Hearing, including 2 copies of your proposed Order Changing Name of Minor, and be prepared to answer any questions. Take with you any court orders, other documents and witnesses related to your child’s name change. Your judge may set another date, if something else is required before the Application can be decided. Upon Approval, your judge can sign your proposed Order Changing Name of Minor and your child’s legal name will be changed. Get Certified Copies of your
Step 5: Update Your Child’s ID and Official Records – Update your child’s birth certificate, social security card, school registration with a Certified Copy of your Order Changing Name of Minor. Same with Passport if that applies. For older children, get the New Name on your child’s MVD License or ID, including Real ID.
Valid Reasons For Child Name Change in Arizona
Changing Child Last Name After Marriage
If you or your spouse, or both of you, had children before this marriage, then you may want to help your kid(s) to share your new family name. If your child was given your prior maiden or married name at birth, you can apply to have that name legally changed to reflect the last name of your new family. If your child was raised by someone (not a parent) and wants to take that person’s last name, that can happen, upon approval.
Changing Child’s Last Name After Divorce
A parent can retake a maiden name in a divorce, but a child’s name doesn’t change automatically. A family law judge can approve a legal name change for your child however most parents don’t decide to change a child’s name until the divorce and custody judgment is done.
You can petition to change your child’s last name after divorce, so that you can share a family name going forward, or to change a child’s first or middle names too. After divorce, whether you shared last names with your spouse or not, your child’s name can be decided in civil court, subject to Orders of your divorce court. If you and your ex will argue about the name change, it may bebest to have that arguement in the divorce court where the judge knows your family’s background better.
As a single parent having your last name the same as your child’s may be an issue for school, medical, travel, your child’s friends and their families, and all the other growing up situations that come with real life. Like most things for single parents, changing a child’s name isn’t easy, but it’s doable and can be very important.
Changing Baby Last Name After Registration
When a baby is born and the name is written down, you may want to change that name very quickly. The reasons why a newborn’s name should be changed are almost endless.
You might hear about important considerations from family members. Maybe you chose your baby’s name too soon, or too late and have a change of heart or mind. Maybe one parent wasn’t able to be involved, but now is. Maybe one parent is no longer around, and the situation is very different about the name your child will grow up with. Many times, after a baby is born, the baby’s “better” name becomes clear to the parents as they get to know their child. And so on, and so on.
The good news is that Name Change through Superior Court in Arizona is available for babies too. Before your child’s name is reinforced in school, with friends and family, on ID and Official Records everywhere, it can be legally changed.
Change Baby’s Name on Birth Certificate in Arizona
To change your baby’s name on the birth certificate, you need an Order Changing Name of Minor from an Arizona Superior Court. You will also need some other documentation that you can assemble after the case is over. For Arizona born babies, the Court Order will state that “the Office of Vital Records is ordered to amend the birth record to reflect the new name as ordered..”
Even if your child was born in another state or another country, your Arizona Court Order will allow you to update the birth certificate subject to the birth place laws. If you only want to add a first or middle name, you may be able to correct a birth record without a Court Order, contact vital records if that’s what you need. In Arizona, all birth certificates are issued and managed by the Arizona Department of Health Services. If you take the time to get your infant’s name information exactly the way you want it on the birth certificate, it will be worth it later when your child establishes their own identity in all the places that will need to be done.
What If One Parent Is Not In The Picture Or Doesn’t Agree?
One parent, alone, has legal rights to petition for this. It happens a lot. Marital status doesn’t matter in this. Your judge will follow the law and make decisions based on the best interests of your child. Whether you were never married, still married, or divorced, all these same rules apply.
If one parent is out of the picture, you don’t need Consent to change your child’s last name. Without signed Consent, you do need give Notice or document why Notice of the Name Change Hearing can’t be Served on the non-consenting parent. Your judge will decide, at the Hearing, if the requirement to serve has been satisfied.
When 1 parent objects, approval is more difficult for your judge. If you already have court order for 100% legal custody, abandonment or other custody orders that apply, those factors will be helpful to you. (Hint: if you know the other parent will formally object, try and get cooperation or agreement before petitioning).
If the other parent isn’t involved or won’t give Consent, you can still successfully change your child’s legal name. This is important, so get the other parent to see why this is best for your child, if possible. If not, one parent can still Apply. If you follow all the steps correctly, prepare well and your judge decides your Name Change Application will be in your child’s best interests if Granted, then it can be.
Can A Mother Change A Child’s Last Name
Yes. A mother is able to change her child’s legal name. It happens all the time. And, a father is able to change a child’s legal name too.
When a mother is raising a child by herself, it’s important that the child’s last name makes all the growing up situations work with school, friends, travel, etc. Either parent can petition to change a child’s last name. It’s more complicated for a judge to decide such cases. But so long as all the rules are followed, no objections are made and the judge thinks it would be in the best interests of the child, the name change can definitely be granted in Arizona.
If the other parent formally objects, the judge may deny the Petition, refer the parents to family court for resolution, or may deny the objection and Grant the Application for Name Change. In most situations where a mother is raising the child alone, she will be successful in changing a child’s last name if everything is done right. Same goes for a father raising a child without the mother.
Can You Change Your Child's Last Name Without Father Consent?
Yes you can.
One parent can Apply for a child’s name change. Any mother can Apply, without the father, and the mother’s Application can be Granted without the father’s consent. The court wants to hear from both parents, if possible, to determin what’s in the child’s best interest. If the father can’t be found, won’t participate, is deceased or has lost rights to participate by court order, then the court can review and Approve your documentation.
If the other parent can be found, won’t Consent, but doesn’t formally object, the name change will have a good chance for Approval so long as all the correct documents are Served and Filed. If the other parent formally objects, your judge will have to sort out what’s in your child’s best interest.
If the father can’t be found, after trying everything reasonable to find him, you can Publish Notice instead of Serving him. The court can Approve Your Child’s Name Change so long as you publish Notice correctly, provide Proof of Publication and properly provide documentation for the Hearing.
What Are All The Costs For the Court Order Process?
Typical TOTAL Costs for a child’s legal name change, with FULL SERVICE
$523 TOTAL (+$45 if eXpedite)
example: Maricopa County –
With Full Service, you would pay EZ $115 when you begin and another $408 (or $453 if eXpedite) AFTER you return the signed Application. You would also pay $10 directly to the Notary and $31 directly to the Superior Court for your Certified Copy, upon approval.
Every other Arizona County costs are less, due to smaller Court Filing Costs. If you have complicating factors, such as being able to Notify a Spouse or other interested persons, Additional costs for Notice, Publishing, Service, etc., may apply.
Court Filing – $218-$333, depending on County
EZ Full Service -$190, Application, Court Filing, Hearing Setup and Customer Service Assistance
Notary – $10
Certified Copy – $31
There are several types of other charges that may or may not apply, depending on your situation: Serve by Certified Mail-$10-$25; Serve by Sheriff-$30-$200; Serve by Publication-$50-$500
Can You Change Your Child’s First And/Or Middle Name Too?
Yes. Absolutely. The Superior Court Name Change Application Process is free form.
None of the costs or processes are different, whether you want to change your child’s first name, middle or last name, or every part of your child’s whole legal name.
So, once you start this process, get the whole name exactly the way you want. And, this process works the same whether your child is 5 days old, 5 years old, or nearly an adult.
Changing a Child’s First Name in Arizona
As parents, you can petition for a first name change just because you changed your mind. That’s a perfectly good reason too. Or, you can just be supporting your child’s wishes. There are many valid reasons for a child’s first name change.
You can change just your child’s first name if you want. Many times a child grows up with a nickname that becomes more the child’s real name than the one you put on the birth certificate. Also, parent’s sometimes change their minds after “knowing” their child. And, sometimes family considerations make a child’s name change important.
If you get an Order Changing Name of Minor (court order), your child can take the a preferred first name legally. The new name could go on all ID, including school, social security, birth certificate, passport, and MVD for older children.
Changing Middle Name Of Child
A child’s middle name can be changed with, or without changing the child’s first or last names. Sometimes a parent, or child (or both) may want to change just the middle name.
Changing a child’s middle name is often done to honor someone in the family. However, sometimes a middle name becomes the child’s first name in real life, and that kind of change can be legally made through the Name Change Petition process too. An older child might want a different middle name to match the child’s self identity. In some families, changing a child’s middle name is Applied for to honor someone important to that family. There’s an unlimited number of reasons why a child’s middle name can be changed legally.
Adding a Middle Name to a Child’s Name
A middle name can be added to a child’s legal name, whether the child has one or more middle names already or not. If the child has no middle name on the birth certificate, you may be able to add a middle name without using the court order name change process.
For children born in Arizona, search the website of the Arizona Department of Health Services for information about correcting a birth certificate to add a middle name (when the middle name section is blank).
To add a middle name, when the child already has one or more middle names, you will need to get a Superior Court Order, Granting the new middle name, and then you can have the child’s ID, school and other Official Records, including the birth certificate, changed to match.
The Pros and Cons of Child Name Change in Arizona
Pros: First and foremost, when you accomplish a child’s last name change, there is a deep personal happiness that you’ll all experience. This kind of name change is the most personal kind of connection, solidifying a sense of belonging with your child and all the family. But, it is also true that school, medical situations, family travel and lots of other situations will be easier and smoother when you all share the same last name. You can get the birth certificate amended to the new last name if you want.
The court process will legally change the name, but won’t affect anything else; child custody/adoption/guardianship orders, child support, background checks later in life, who the biological parents are, whether a parent can visit or not, etc.
Cons: You will need to update all your child’s ID and Official Records, one by one. Getting a Court Order Changing Name of Minor only Grants the new Name, it doesn’t automatically update the name on ID or Records. With a Certified Copy of the Court Order, you can have the birth certificate amended and the other ID too. You will need to update Social Security, School Registration, Passport and MVD (depending on the age of your child), and possibly other records. It won’t take as long to do those things as you might think.
Some relationships will still use your child’s old name informally. It won’t take long for everyone to use the new name for every situation.