Changing a Child’s Last Name in New York
How To Change Your Child’s Last Name In New York
Can I Legally Change My Child’s Last Name?
To change a name with school, social security, passport office or other government agency, you won’t get their consent without a Certified Copy of a Decree Changing Name. That document is a type of court order you get after completing the Petition and Hearing process in Superior Court. A court clerk will Certify a Copy of your Decree Changing Name after your judge signs it at the courthouse. The primary government agencies will make name changes when you give them a Certified Copy of a properly prepared name change court order.
The difference between legal name change and informally changing a name (sometimes called Usage, or Common Law name change), is the legal petition and approval process. When you go through the court process you end up with a name change court order. People and government offices must obey the court order. Without a court order, honoring the new name is elective and not required.
The Child Name Change Petition Process in New York
A Petition for Change of Name is a court form. It’s one of a collection of court forms that are called a Name Change Petition. This is the official process if you want to legally change your child’s last name, or any part of your child’s name. Authority for this process comes from the New York Name Change Laws.
Step 1: Go to a superior court and ask a court clerk for the name change forms. Or, look for them online. (Hint: many counties have additional “local” forms you need to complete and turn in too. Look for those or ask the courthouse filing clerk if they have any local name change forms you need to use).
Step 2: Complete the name change petition forms, sign them in the required spots, and make an extra copy of each page. Take both copies of your Petition to the civil unlimited filing window at your superior courthouse and pay them the filing fee. (Hint: choose a qualified newspaper and write in their name in section 3a of the Order To Show Cause Form before you make your copy or file at the court). The filing clerk will give you a hearing date to where you will get your court order, upon approval. Ask the clerk for a Conformed Copy of your filed petition, and an extra copy of the Conformed Order to Show Cause Form.
Step 3: Take one of the Conformed Order to Show Cause Forms to your chosen qualified newspaper and have them run your required publication (see CCP 1277(a)(2)). Ask them to file a Proof of Publication with your court for you after the last publication AND give you a copy so you can take it to your hearing, just in case. Then go to your Hearing, where your judge can grant your petition, upon approval. Get your Certified Copy of the Decree right after your successful Hearing.1275
Valid Reasons For Child Name Change in New York
Changing Child Last Name After Marriage
Changing Child’s Last Name After Divorce
Changing Baby Last Name After Registration
Change Baby’s Name on Birth Certificate in New York
After a legal name change, you can get an amended birth certificate from the New York Department of Public Health, if your child was born in New York. Each state has their own rules for birth certificate name changes. In California, all birth certificates are issued and managed by the CDPH, who will prepare a new 2-page Amended Birth Certificate if you complete their Application and send a Certified Copy of your Decree Changing Name.
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. However, your judge has to follow the law if one parent doesn’t consent. Marital status doesn’t matter in this. 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. You do need to serve him or her with a conformed copy of the Order to Show Cause form. The other parent still does not have to consent or agree, just get served. Once served, a Proof of Service form must be filed. If service can’t be done, you can submit a declaration to explain why you can’t reasonably do that. Only your judge can decide if the requirement to serve can be waived or done in some other way.
When 1 parent objects, name change judges are not likely to side with one parent over another. HOWEVER, if you already have a family law court order saying you have 100% legal custody, or other custody orders that 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).
Both parents can sign the petition before filing, whether they live together or not. When both parents agree, the judge doesn’t have to decide about that issue in order to grant the petition.
Can A Mother Change A Child’s Last Name
Yes. 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 New York. If one parent objects to the judge, the judge may resolve the objection, deny the Petition, or refer the parents to family court for resolution. However, 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. Unfortunately, a father is often 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 OR the petitioning parent must provide a declaration to explain why the other parent can’t reasonably be served. 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.
What Are All The Costs For the Court Order Process?
Court Filing Costs are the biggest part of the expense. In New York, petitions are filed in a superior court where the cost to file is between $435 and $480. No court charges less that $435 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).
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 common cost for this. Publishing charges cannot be waived. However, conforming to gender identity and Safe-At-Home petitions have exemptions).
Petition Preparation costs nothing if you do it yourself. FULL SERVICE with EZ Name Change costs $190. A lawyer can do that for between $500 and $2500. You can get a Forms company to help you fill out the forms for only between $50 and $150. A paralegal may help for between $300-$500.
OTHER COSTS: Serving Notice can cost between $40 and $100, if done by personal service. Certified Mail service (for out-of-state or country) is about $10 or less. Help to prepare a declaration can be $75 to $150 or more. If you want to get an amended birth certificate, they charge $23 or so per Certified Copy. The court Certified Copy you need costs $25.50 each, but some courts give one or more to you without charge.
Typical TOTAL Costs for a child’s legal name change, with FULL SERVICE, are between $700-$800. 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 New York
Changing Middle Name Of Child
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 New York, search the website of the New York Department of Public Health 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 and Official Records changed to match.
The Pros and Cons of Child Name Change in New York
Pros: First and foremost, there is a deep personal happiness that people get from having the right last name for their life. This will likely change your child’s name for the better, with a sense of belonging within the family. But, it is also true that school and medical situations will be easier when you 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 orders, child support, background checks later in life, who the parents are, whether a parent can visit or not, etc.
Cons: If you want to get an amended birth certificate, that will take another couple of months after you get your court order. You don’t need to do that, but you can. You will need to get social security changed, but that’s a pretty simple process. If you have foreign passport authorities to consider, check with them to see exactly what they require. Your New York Certified Decree Changing Name is the gold standard worldwide. But, you may need additional documentation too.