Child Name Change – California Resident
Child Name Change in CA - Information, Petition Service
Whether your child is 2 days old or an adult now, or anywhere in between, getting your Child’s Legal Name to be exactly the right one for the life to come…that’s really important. Getting a legal name change for a child can be difficult to do, and it’s not free. But it’s one of the very most important parts of a child’s identity and way of being in the world. Helping get it right is a big deal.
One or both parents can Petition for a Child Name Change, for one or more children. Your Filing must be done correctly for the Superior Court where the child is living now. On this page you can find answers to the most frequently asked questions, about Costs, Time Frames, Courts and Court Forms, etc. Child Name Change Specialists can answer other questions if you don’t see your answers below. Only EZ Name Change has Full Service for Child Name Change.
Getting your Child’s Name Change is a very important event for the growing up years. You need to be sure everything is done right the first time. We get that.
Child Name Change Information and Help – Under 18 Yrs Old
For Child Name Change, prepare a collection of Forms called (collectively) a Petition for Change of Name.
File them with the Civil Unlimited filing clerk in the County Superior Court for where your child lives now. The Court will set a Hearing for Your Name Change.
Before the Hearing date, you must have a qualified newspaper run a legal notice of the Hearing for 4 consecutive weeks. If there is a non-consenting parent, you also need to Serve the other parent and file Proof of Service with the court, or prepare and file a Declaration to explain why that can’t reasonably be done. Your judge can get a confidential criminal history assessment report, and has all the Petition information which is used to make the decision.
Usually, if you have everything prepared and processed correctly, the judge approves Your Child’s Name Change at the Hearing. If Granted, you get your Certified Copy(s) of the Decree Changing Name (Court Order) right after you get your signed Decree in the same courthouse. The Certified Copy is what you use to update your child’s ID and Official Records. For more information, visit this page about changing a child’s last, first or middle names.
Social Security, School, Passports and other government and financial entities want you to show them a Certified Copy of your Court Order (actually called a Decree Changing Name) when you ask them to Change Your Child’s Name and give you new documents with Your New Legal Name. You can get an Amended birth certificate by presenting your Certified Court Order to the California Department of Public Health.
It takes most people 10 to 15 minutes to complete the Questionnaire (Start My Name Change Now).
Then, it usually takes about 8-12 weeks to get your Child Name Change Court Order in your hands. It can take longer if your Petition is done wrong or incompletely, or if the court is clogged.
The court order is effective the moment it’s signed by the judge. The moment you give the school or social security a Certified Copy of your Decree Changing Name, you can expect them to update Your Child’s Records right then.
It will take just a couple of days to change your Child’s ID and Official Records. If you want to get an Amended birth certificate, that can take another couple of months.
For more information about how long everything takes, take a look at How Long Does Name Change Take in California
The sooner you start, the sooner it will all be done.
Child Name Change Total is about $715 for Full Service.
$115 for your completed Name Change Petition and supporting documents.
$435-$480 for Court Filing. Most courts charge $435 but some charge a bit more.
$90 for required advertising (usual costs range up to $150, but $90 is a common price). some small population counties in Northern California might be a lot higher.
$75 for our Full Service charge
See this page for more details about Child Name Change Process – Costs
$40.50 for a Certified Copy of your Decree Changing Name. $35-75 to serve papers on a non-consenting spouse, if needed (single parent or Legal Guardian Petitions only). $75 for our help to prepare a Declaration, if needed (single parent Petitions, $115 for Legal Guardians)
See California Costs To Change a Child’s Name for more details.
Courts will waive your court fees if you qualify and complete all the Waiver Request Forms correctly. All California Name Change Courts allow Child Name Change requests that court fees be waived. Fee Waiver Requests are for people who can’t afford the court fees and also pay their regular monthly household living expenses. The court makes that decision. Submit all the right forms to have the Court consider your Request to Waive Fees. The Court requires a properly completed Petition before they will consider Granting a Request to Waive Court Fees.
With our Full Service, EZ Name Change will complete all your Fee Waiver Request Forms, without any extra charges, upon your request and with your information. You just need to let us know you want to apply for Court Fee Waivers. You can see a blank Fee Waiver Form and Order Form here, or use this link to print it out for your own use or review.
For Child Name Change, your truthful reason is almost certainly good enough. You just need to write it out and put it in the Petition correctly. The valid reasons for name change are almost unlimited. Just put your reason in plain English and it should be fine.
If you are seeking a name change that will cause harm, injury, confusion or fraud, your judge may not Grant your Petition. Court’s won’t likely allow you to get a name that is intended to mislead (such as adopting a celebrity’s name), that is intentionally confusing, or that incites violence. Nor can one adopt, as a name, a racial slur, a threat, or an obscenity.
It’s much more important to get all your Petition documents and processes done right than it is to get your Reason exactly correct.
You can see the Top 5 Name Change Reasons, to see what others have said for their name change reasons.
The California Name Change Laws lay out the basis for choosing the correct court (see CCP 1276(a)). Each County establishes the Superior Court with jurisdiction to decide Name Change Petitions, by assigning every residence address to a particular court. In larger counties, there may be a main court and a branch court accessible to your address for Legal Name Change.
Many people think, wrongly, that you need to file a Name Change Petition where the person changing names was born. That’s not true. A Child’s Name Change Petition must be filed in the jurisdiction where that child is living now.
You may need records changed in other states or countries, besides where the child lives now. But you must first get your court order where you are now. Your Court Order (Decree Changing Name) is honored everywhere in California, throughout the United States and Worldwide. A Certified Copy of the California Superior Court Decree Changing Name is the gold standard Name Change Document.
You just need accurate information: Your Child’s birth information, address, reason for the Name Change, exact current legal name and New Name, basic information about both parents. Your child’s birth certificate probably has all that information on it.
In a few California Counties, you may also need a copy of your child’s birth certificate, photo ID for yourself and proof of your current residency in the county where you are living.
A few courts require background check information information on the parent(s). And some courts require a background check on the child (depends on the age of the child and the county of residence, sometimes depending on the city/zip code within the county).
Oh…and you need to know exactly what your child’s new legal name will be:)
With that, get it started with EZ Name Change Full Service or get all the Petition Forms online or from your local Superior Court and start filling them out.
It’s worth it!
Call us (818 505-6189) or send an email (Name Change Questions). We love to help and can probably answer any question you might have. We’ve probably answered the same questions for other parents before. If you rather not talk to us directly, look around in this website for articles and links that can tell you everything from exactly how the California Name Change laws read, to which U.S. President Legally changed his name … and everything in between.
If you need to keep the Name Change Petition information secret due to personal safety concerns for Yourself or Your Child, the State of California has a highly confidential program (Safe at Home) for people who need to keep their information secret for personal safety reasons. If you believe your situation requires that type of treatment, we can help you after you’re enrolled with the State of California, Name Change Proceedings Under Confidentiality Program (Confidential Name Change).
The Name Change After Divorce process requires that either both parents consent about the Name Change, OR that the non-consenting parent be Served with Notice of the Hearing for Change of Name, if it’s reasonably possible to do.
If the other parent is not alive, say that in the space provided and the requirement to Serve doesn’t apply.
If the other parent isn’t signing the Petition with you, then you must have that person Served with Notice of the Hearing at least 30 days before your Hearing, and file Proof of Service in your case. Inside the state, the other parent must be personally Served (not by you), but outside the State it can be done by Certified or Registered Mail, Return Receipt Requested.
If you don’t know where the other person is to Serve them, you need to try and find them. If you can’t reasonably find them, you can file a Declaration to explain what you’ve done to try and find the Service address and ask to be relieved of further duty to Serve. Your judge can require you to try further steps to locate the other parent or can excuse you from that if the judge finds it’s not reasonably possible for you to do. Likewise, if you believe it might be dangerous for you to have to Notify the other parent, you can ask the judge to be excused from having to Serve but your judge may still require it.
Documents that may be relevant to a one-parent Petition, to file as attachments to your Petition or your Declaration…or to bring to your Hearing, might include: child’s birth certificate, Court Orders, such as Custody, Restraining, or Name Change, Notarized documents about parentage, DNA test results, police reports, signed documents from the other parent, child services documents related to the other person, etc.)
It’s very rare for a non-consenting parent to object to a child’s name change Petition, even when the other parent is difficult to deal with otherwise. And, even if the other parent objects formally, the judge will likely hear out the objection but do what’s best for the child.
When EZ Name Change helps 1 parent with changing a child’s last name, or any part(s) of a child’s name, the Petition is prepared and supported so that the chances are maximized for GRANTING at the Hearing. Call us with your details if you’re not sure about how to proceed and we can give you additional information to help with your particular situation.
Yes, but it’s rare. The Court requires that you give a reason for Changing Your Child’s Legal Name. Put the real reason down, using your/his/her own words. There are times when the court may deny a Petition for Change of Name. Unless the Name Change reason is to try and avoid debts, incite violence, use obscenity, defraud someone, cause harm, trade on someone else’s fame or reputation, create identity confusion, or reasons like these, your reason is probably an acceptable one.
To give you some relative perspective:
In 2004, a Missouri man succeeded in changing his name to “They”. The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that a name change to “1069” could be denied, but that “Ten Sixty-Nine” was acceptable (Application of Dengler, 1979); the North Dakota Supreme Court had denied the same request several years before (Petition of Dengler, 1976).
You or your child cannot choose a name that is intended to mislead (such as adopting a celebrity’s name), that is intentionally confusing, or that incites violence; nor can one adopt, as a name, a racial slur, a threat, or an obscenity.
Biggest reason for Denying a Child’s Name Change
If both parents are actively involved in the child’s life, with custody and/or child support, and if one parent formally objects to the name change…that’s the one type of situation where the name change judge may refer the issue to a family law judge or Deny the Petition. A judge is free to deny any Petition for Change of a Child’s Legal Name if the judge thinks the child’s best interests would be negatively affected or for any other reason too. BUT, the vast majority of child name change petitions are granted, at lease the one’s we help with are.
When 1 parent missing, you’re probably going to be allowed to change your child’s name to exactly the name you want. However, you have to do everything about the Petition Process correctly. So, learn how changing a child’s legal name is done or get professional name change services to get it done right.
If the non-consenting parent objects to the Name Change, the judge may Grant or Deny the Petition based on all the factors involved. Your Name Change judge considers your Family Court Custody Order if you have one. Similarly, the Name Change judge may also consider testimony or other documents related to what’s best for the child. There’s a big difference if your child is 10 months old, and the other parent is missing, than if your child is 16 years old and the other parent was gone before your child was born. Expect your judge to be looking for those kinds of answers.
It’s best if the Petitioning parent can get the agreement of the non-consenting parent. That’s often not possible. MANY single parent’s are successful in Changing their Child’s Name with a non-consenting parent totally out of the picture. You may have to prepare and file a Declaration to explain what you’ve tried to do to find the other parent and why it’s not reasonably possible to do. You just need to do everything right and be persistent. This is important.
EZ Name Change does these everyday and will be happy to take you through the process.