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Changing a Child’s Last Name in Georgia

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How To Change Your Child’s Last Name In Georgia

First, you need to know that you can do this. You can.

To 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 (see below). Then take the first step, then the next step, and so on. In a few months time, this can be done. Now, that’s something to look forward to with a smile, isn’t it?

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 Final Order Changing Name of Minor Child(ren), you can get your child’s ID and Official Records changed with school, social security, passport, DDS (when that time comes) and birth certificate too.

Can I Legally Change My Child’s Last Name?

To change a child’s name legally, so you can update with school, social security, passport or other government agency, get a Certified Copy of a Final Order Changing Name of Minor Child(ren) (changing name by deed poll is not available in the US). This is the kind of court order you get after completing the Petition and Hearing process in Superior Court. After a judge signs the Order, upon approval, a court clerk can certify a copy(s) of it. That CERTIFIED Copy is the Name Change Document the government agencies will accept when you ask them to update your child’s ID and Official Records.

Legal name change and real-life name change (sometimes called a Usage, or a Common Law name change) are 2 different things, but they can be joined. A Legal Name Change goes through a formal legal and approval process, is subject to review and objections, and is Approved (or not) by an authorized official (usually a judge). Upon approval, after a Legal Name Change, you can get a Certified Copy of a Court Order which government agencies are required to honor. When you change a name in real life, without getting a court order or other official document for it, the new name may or may not be honored. Social Security, Department of Driver Services, and Vital Records are likely to require a Court Order to update names on those ID and Records.

The Child Name Change Petition Process in Georgia

A petition for change of name is a court form. It’s one of a collection of court forms that are referred to as a Name Change Petition. These documents are where you start the official process, if you want to legally change your child’s last name. Authority for this process comes from the Official Code of Georgia (OCGA § 19-12-1 through 19-12-4 and 31-10-23(d)).

You can have EZ Name Change take you through this process with Full Service. Whether you have EZ Name Change help you or do this yourself, without help, these are the steps to change your child(ren)’s names in Georgia:

Step 1: Get the child name change forms from a Superior Court in your County, or look for them online. (Hint: many counties have unique “local” forms you need to complete correctly. Look for those or ask the courthouse filing clerk if they have any other child name change forms you may need to use).

Step 2: Complete the name change petition forms and date/sign them in the required spots. Look for the forms where notarization is required and sign those in the presence of the notary. Establish an account with an eFiling service established with your County Superior Court. You will need to pay court filing fees. (Hint: you may need to pay for required newspaper publishing either during the eFiling or after your filing is reviewed and if it’s accepted). Upon acceptance, the eFiling clerk will give you a filing date and then it’s time to arrange your required publishing. Get court-stamped copies of all your filed petition forms.

Step 3: Do the Notices: Newspaper and Other Parent (if the other parent isn’t signing Consent with your Petition). Order the required publishing from the authorized newspaper and have them run your required 4 notices (see OCGA § 19-12-1 (a)(b)). File a publisher’s Affidavit so you can schedule your Hearing for decision. Serve Notice to non-consenting parent, unless the other parent has given signed consent. You must properly document the other parent’s consent, notification of the Hearing, or why that’s not required. Both of these sets of documents will be reviewed prior to decision.

Step 4: Schedule and attend your Hearing. You will need to Appear with ID and answer questions, if any, that the judge will ask. Properly completed documents, filed before the Hearing, can fully address all the questions a judge may want to ask about, but the judge is free to ask any questions thought to be relevant to the name change decision. Upon Approval, a judge can sign your Final Order Changing Name of Minor Child(ren).

Step 5: Get your Certified Copy(s) and Update your ID and Official Records. Upon Approval, you will receive a signed Court Order, approving the Name Change you requested. Take the Certified Copy to your Superior Court and order Certified Copies from the clerk there. We recommend you get 2 or 3 of them, but you can get as many as you want. They cost $2.50 each. Take a Certified Copy to Social Security and update your Child’s Card and Records there. Depending on your priorities, you can update Records at school, vital records, DDS, Passport, etc.

Some Valid Reasons For Name Change Of A Minor

Changing Child Last Name After Marriage in GA

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 family name or your new spouse’s last name. Your child’s name can be changed to the name of the person who raised the child instead of the biological parent. Older children, as they approach adulthood, may want the name they’ve been using as their legal name, instead of the one on their birth certificate. You can change your child’s last name to honor a grandparent or other ancestor, so that person’s last name might continue on. All these situations, and more, are valid reasons for changing your child’s name.

Changing Child’s Last Name After Divorce in GA

A parent can retake a maiden name in a divorce, but a child’s name doesn’t change automatically. You can petition to change your child’s last name after divorce, so that you can share a family name going forward. Whether you shared last names with your spouse or not, as a single parent you’re going to want last name connection with your child for school, medical, travel and all the other growing up situations that come with real life. Like most things for single parents, changing a child’s name, with a non-consenting parent, isn’t easy, but it’s doable and can be very important.

Changing Baby Last Name After Registration in GA

When a child is born, you may have to make a hasty naming decision and may have a change of mind in a few days or after some years. Maybe one parent couldn’t be there to help with the final naming decision. Or, maybe the child’s name was chosen when 2 parents were going to be raising the child, but 1 parent isn’t in the picture any more. Sometimes the extended family chimes in with strong wishes for the child’s name and you want to honor those requests. As parents get to know their new baby, sometimes the parents come to want a different name than the one they chose. You can legally change your baby’s name within days, weeks, months or years if you want, and a whole lot of new parents do just that. Within the baby’s first year, the parents can apply to change the child’s name without a court order. After 1 year old, a Name change Court Order can be obtained to do that. When a baby’s name is legally changed, that child will grow up with the new name and all the ID and Official Records will be solidly established throughout childhood and beyond.

Change Baby’s Name on Birth Certificate in Georgia

After a legal name change, you can get an amended birth certificate from the Georgia Department of Public Health, if your child was born in Georgia. Each state has their own rules for birth certificate name changes. In Georgia, all birth certificates are issued and managed by the Georgia DPH (Vital Records). Vital Records will prepare an Amended Birth Certificate, if you complete their Application (CYC/First Year Correction or DPH Form 3977/More than 1 year old) and, for children over 1, send a Certified Copy of your Final Order (or Decree) Changing Name of Minor Child(ren), with the appropriate fees.

What If One Parent Is Not In The Picture Or Doesn’t Agree?

One parent, alone, can petition for your child’s name to be legally changed. It happens a lot. However, your judge has to consider all factors, including whether or not the other parent consents and your child’s best interests. Court cases that are only about changing names are covered by Official Code of Georgia Sections 19-12-1 through 19-12-4 and 31-10-23(d). If you want to accomplish something else, other laws will apply and you should consult an attorney to learn what options you have. If it’s just changing your child’s legal name, you can use this Petition process. Whether you were never married, still married, or divorced, all these same rules apply.

If one parent is out of the picture, you’ll need to document the situation in your Petition and provide the information you have. There are provisions for documenting the consent of the other parent, providing Notice to the other parent, or documenting the situation when giving the other Parent Notice isn’t possible. The other parent still does not have to consent or agree, but without properly documented consent, Serving Notice properly is required if it can be done. There are exceptions if Serving the other parent might cause harm, depending on the judge’s decision for that. Once served, a Proof of Service form must be filed. If service can’t be done, Service by Publication is an option, or the judge might specify other ways you can provide assurance of Service if possible. Only your judge can decide if the requirement to serve can be waived or done in some other way. What’s best for your Child is always a central part of the decisions.

When one parent objects, name change judges may not side with one parent over another. HOWEVER, if you already have a family law or other court order saying you have 100% legal custody, or if other custody orders apply, your name change judge may approve your application even if one of the parents object. (Hint: if you know the other parent will formally object, try and get cooperation or agreement before petitioning). The judge is always in charge of sorting out the interests of everyone and making the decision.

Can A Mother Change A Child’s Last Name

A mother can Petition to change her child’s name. 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 Georgia (see OCGA 19-12-1 and 19-12-1(a)). If one parent objects to the judge, the judge may resolve the objection and Grant the Petition, deny the Petition, or refer the parents to family court or other forum for resolution. However, in most situations where a mother is raising the child alone, she can be successful in changing a child’s last name if all the steps are done right, and upon approval. Same goes for a father raising a child without the mother.

Can You Change Your Child's Last Name Without Father Consent?

The other parent’s consent is not required, but it’s better if both parents agree. Unfortunately, a father is sometimes not in the picture when a child is growing up. Sometimes a mother drops out of a child’s life and the same thing is true for the father. The non-consenting parent has to be Served with Notice of the Filing for your child’s name change. The judge can excuse the petitioning parent from Serving the other parent, but may also require that Notice must be properly Served or may deny the Petition. The missing parent’s Consent isn’t needed. But the judge will want to be sure the other parent knows the Name Change is happening unless it’s not reasonably possible to do that, in which case Serving by Publication may be an option (see OCGA 19.12.1).

What Are All The Costs For the Court Order Process?

$214 to file, common average. Court Filing Costs are the biggest part of the expense. In Georgia, petitions are filed in a superior court where the cost to file is between $200 and $290. No court charges less than $200 for this. (Hint: All superior courts have a Fee Waiver Request form for if you can’t afford the filing charges along with your regular monthly living costs).

$100 Advertising, common average. Publishing usually costs between $80 and $175, but can be as much as $500. Get that cost before you write in your chosen newspaper if you can. $90-$110 is a usual cost for this. Publishing charges cannot be waived. (However, exemption for family violence can be an exception)

Petition Preparation costs nothing if you do everything yourself. FULL SERVICE with EZ Name Change costs $190. A lawyer can do that for between $500 and $2500 (no fixed pricing). You can get a national forms company to help for between $50 and $150 (forms only, limited Georgia County specific inventory of forms). A paralegal may help for between $300-$500.

OTHER COSTS: Serving Notice can cost between $15 and $100, if done by Certified Mail, Sheriff, or Publication. If both parents consent, Service won’t be required. The court Certified Copy(s) you need costs $2.50 each (maybe as much as $3.5 in some counties). Notary costs will be between $5 and $100 depending on the arrangements you make for your notary.

Typical TOTAL Costs for a child’s legal name change, with FULL SERVICE, are between $500-600. You would pay $115 to start and the rest after you sign the documents prepared for you, just before they get submitted to court.

Can You Change Your Child’s First And/Or Middle Name Too?

One or both parents can change their child(ren)’s First Name, Middle Name, Last Name, or all of them at the same time. None of the costs, or process, are different whether you want to change 1 single letter or every part of the 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 you’re married, not married, divorced or never married.

Changing a Child’s First Name in Georgia

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. If you get a Decree Changing Name (court order), your child can take the nickname as the real life legal name, and take that New Legal Name into adulthood. As parents, you can petition for a first name change just because you changed your mind. That’s a perfectly good reason too. Any real reason parents have to change their child’s legal name will likely be fine, assuming the child’s best interests are supported and no harm is caused.

Changing Middle Name of Child in GA

You can change only your child’s middle name if you want, without changing the first or last names. 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. There’s an unlimited number of reasons why a child’s middle name can be changed legally, and they are all likely solid and valid. It’s personal, and important, right?

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. To add a middle name for every legal purpose, including government ID and Official Records, you can get a Superior Court Final Order/Decree through this Petition process. With a Certified Copy of that Court Order, you can have Vital Records and Social Security update their Official Records and issue a replacement SSA Card and Amended Birth Certificate. The same goes for updating school, DDS and Passport records when those are requested.

The Pros and Cons of Child Name Change in Georgia

Pros: First and foremost, there is a deep personal happiness that people get from having the right last name for their life. That goes for a parent(s), the family, and your child(ren). This will likely change your child’s sense of identity for the better, with a deeper feeling of connection within the family. And, in life. But, it is also true that school and medical situations will be easier when your child has the right last name. Upon approval, you can get the birth certificate amended to the new last name if you want. The court process will legally change the name when the judge signs your Final Order Changing Name of Minor Child(ren). With a Certified Copy of that, you can have your child’s name changed to it at the school, Social Security, and every other place too. It doesn’t take long for your child’s NEW Legal Name to be used exclusively everywhere.

Cons: This process isn’t simple or free, but nearly everyone is very happy to have done it after the court process and updating ID activities are over. The Court Order process doesn’t erase the prior legal name, but no one will remember the old name existed after a pretty short period after getting the ID and Official Records changed over. If an actively involved parent formally objects to the name change in the court proceeding, chances for the Petition to be Granted are reduced, depending on what your judge makes of the objection alongside your Petition, your child’s best interests and other factors your judge may consider.

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