Changing a Child’s Last Name in Georgia
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
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Change Baby’s Name on Birth Certificate in Georgia
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
Can You Change Your Child's Last Name Without Father Consent?
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?
Changing a Child’s First Name in Georgia
Changing Middle Name of Child in GA
Adding a Middle Name to a Child’s Name
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.