Can I change the last name of my child? 1 Answers as of April 08, 2011

My daughter is in my custody and her father is not in her life. He did not terminate his rights as a parent but he did sign them over to me. He never even attempts to contact her or be a part of her life at all. I am now married & have 2 other children with my husband. She still carries my maiden name. Can I change her last name to my married name?

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Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
Yes. The process is a little time consuming but depending on what the bio-father signed (you said he signed over his rights to you) it may be easier. That document will determine if bio-father needs to be served or not.

The question I have for you is whether or not your current husband wants to adopt? The cost of a name change and a step-parent adoption are not very different. There is a way to waive social studies and some of the expenses charged by 3rd parties if the adoption is via step-parent. I recommend you speak to your husband. If he wants to be "daddy" then do a Step-Parent Adoption instead and the name change as part of the process. The only caveat to keep in mind is this, if your husband adopts, he becomes daddy by law, along with that comes all the rights and duties.

If you later divorce, he can seek custody, the law will treat him forever and always as if he was there the night she was conceived. But, that is not a bad thing, think of it from the point of view that if he is willing to accept that responsibility, what a great testament to how he feels about you and your daughter. If you do not want to proceed with an adoption for any reason, then a name change is a process.

File the petition, serve bio-father (again this step may not be necessary), secure a court date, show the court the reasoning is legal and legitimate (is this something you want or something your daughter wants - is she old enough to know or appreciate why her name is different, has she ever asked, etc.) and most importantly, since this is a child, it is a non-issue, anyone seeking a name change must demonstrate it is not to avoid criminal prosecution or avoid creditors.

I assume she is under 18 so that is a silly requirement for her, but one the law demands. Following the issuance of the order - that is actually the easy part, there is the request for amended birth certificates, application for amendment of Social Security cards, school records, etc. An attorney may include the Vital Statistics/Birth Cert in the representation, the rest is up to you. It is just a little time consuming.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 4/8/2011
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