How can I change my child's last name from the father's to mine and receive sole custody? 41 Answers as of August 16, 2012

My daughter is 1 month old, lives with me, and is under my health insurance. I am not married. She has her father's last name, but he has yet to sign the paternity papers from the hospital. He has not spent a dime on her or time with her. How do I get sole custody and change her last name to mine?

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Nwokoye Law Firm
Nwokoye Law Firm | Violet Nwokoye
You can change your child's name by filling a petition in the family court of the county you reside in for a name change of a child.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 8/16/2012
John Russo | John Russo
First of all this seems to be a little premature the child is only a month old. Second, how does she have his last name sounds like it is not on the birth certificate so whats the issue just call her by your last name. If it is on the certificate he has already admitted paternity. As far as custody and placement file motions with the family court.
Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
Replied: 8/13/2012
Snake River Law PLLC
Snake River Law PLLC | Mark Petersen
To obtain sole custody of a child you will need to petition the court to establish paternity and fix custody provisions. Until you have a court order that says otherwise, both you and the father have equal custody rights of the child. Idaho is by default a joint custody state and it is difficult to obtain sole custody of a child unless there are specific reasons for the sole custody (i.e. domestic violence, abuse, drug/alcohol issues, incarceration, etc.).
Answer Applies to: Idaho
Replied: 8/13/2012
Law Office of Charles M. Vacca Jr. | Charles Martin Vacca Jr.
Probably by and through a motion filed with the Family Court.
Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
Replied: 8/10/2012
Ezim Law Firm | Dean Esposito
To get sole custody of her, you would have to file suit and ask for it. Sole custody is seldom awarded unless the other parent is a drug addict or child abuser.
Answer Applies to: Louisiana
Replied: 8/8/2012
    Patterson Johnson-Stovall & Crenshaw PLLC | Joyce Johnson-Stovall
    You need to file a paternity action with the court.... and you can actually request a name change... some family law judges are reluctant to do that, but I have had the request approved.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 8/8/2012
    The Law Offices of Dave Hawkins
    The Law Offices of Dave Hawkins | Dave Hawkins
    Until he signs the paternity affidavit, he has no rights as the Father. However, be warned, if you ever request any kind of public assistance from the State, the state automatically will seek to establish a child support order and serve him the necessary papers to establish paternity. Once that happens, he can file a Petition to establish a residential schedule to set up visitation with the child. In Wa. state, there is no such thing as "sole custody". A biologlcal Father has a right to visit his child once paternity has been established.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/8/2012
    Alvin Lundgren | Alvin Lundgren
    If he is listed as the father on the birth certificate it will be difficult. If he is not listed then you are by default the sole parent, unless he files for paternity.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 8/8/2012
    Gorman Law Group, P.C. | Troy T. Gorman
    In order to change the last name of your child you or an attorney would have to file a petition with the court. Obviously, her father would have the right to be given notice of the filing and an opportunity to object. It would be a judge's decision from there. As far as custody, there are two kinds: Legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody gives you the ability to make important decisions yourself regarding things like medical treatment or school attendance, etc. Physical custody deals with where your child will live for the most part. It sounds like you want both sole legal custody and sole physical custody. Unless he agrees to this, you or an attorney would have to file a motion with the court and prove several factors to convince a judge to rule in your favor. Either way, you would want a judgement filed with the court saying who has what rights and obligations, which should also include parenting time and child support. This would help prevent issues from arising in the future.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/8/2012
    Reza Athari & Associates, PLLC | Seth L. Reszko
    As for the issue of custody. I would file a complaint and a temporary motion for custody of your daughter. Based upon the little bit of information you provided, you have a good chance of obtaining primary physical custody. The father does have a right to visit your daughter. But, the filing of the complaint and temporary motion should include a request for child support. The Family Court has a self-help service. I would recommend hiring an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 8/8/2012
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
    File the Motion to Establish Paternity and ask for these two things. That said, you need to define "sole custody". I find that many times parents have an idea of what "sole custody" means that is not the same as mine. By the way, we use the term Conservator in Texas which is part of the convolution. As for changing the baby's name - that is really not your choice. You had that choice at the hospital. If the paternity comes back positive or Dad signs acknowledgement, then the baby gets his last name, unless he agrees otherwise or you can prove to the court that it is in the child's best interest. Note, the child's best interest has nothing to do with your personal desires and vice versa.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 8/8/2012
    Steven Alpers | Steven Alpers
    There are two ways to change a name. One is step-parent adoption where you and another person would adopt your daughter. The second is a petition to change name and your ex-boyfriend would have to get a chance to object to the name change.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/8/2012
    Mike Yeksavich | Mike Yeksavich
    You should file a paternity case.
    Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
    Replied: 8/8/2012
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller | Jody A. Miller
    If you are not married to the father and he had not signed legitimation documents or obtained a court order of legitimation or custody, by operation of law you already have sole physical and legal custody. If the father signed the birth certificate you would need to consult with an attorney about whether you can file a legal action to change the child's last name.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/8/2012
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    If the parents were not married, by default, the mother is the custodial parent and the father would have no enforceable parenting rights until they are established by a court. If a man is not married to a child's mother when the child is born, he can become the "legal" father through the "Recognition of Parentage" (ROP) process or by Court Order. However, such an adjudication still bestows no custody or parenting time rights on the father. To get a Court Order establishing paternity and establishing custody or parenting time, the father must commence an action for paternity, or where paternity is established, for custody and parenting time, in the local District Court of the county where the child lives. In the end, the longer a father waits to establish custody and parenting time, the more difficult seeking a reasonable custody resolution and/or parenting schedule may become. If the matter cannot be resolved by agreement, Courts make custody determinations based on what the court believes is in the child's best interests. Most courts do not view 50 -50 custody as a viable option believing that it provides the child with little stability. As a result, in most cases, the court will award primary physical custody to one parent while the other will have a parenting schedule. Often, seeking primary physical custody is advisable to seeking joint physical custody in order to acquire a more favorable resolution by agreement. The court will consider any relevant facts in making a custody determination including 13 specific factors outlined in Minnesota Statutes. Your case should be carefully framed to address each of the relevant statutory factors to be effective.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 8/8/2012
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    You need to petition the court to establish a parenting plan, asking that the name be changed. You'll want to propose a parenting plan that severely limits his time. You can't make him disappear or pretend he doesn't exist, but he may go away. Would that be best for your child.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/8/2012
    R. Jason de Groot, P.A
    R. Jason de Groot, P.A | R. Jason de Groot
    Sole parental responsibility is not favored because in Florida a natural parent has a god-given right to share in the growth and development of the child. Sole responsibility will not be awarded to you unless many unique factors are present. Read the factors that the court uses in determining residence and time sharing, Florida Statutes, Section 61.13(3). You will need an attorney, you cannot just go into court saying nasty things about the other parent and expect to win. That is simply not how it is done, you have to be very cautious in presenting the type of evidence necessary to get sole parental responsibility, and what you state is simply not enough.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/8/2012
    Leonard A. Kaanta, P.C. | Leonard A. Kaanta
    You have to filea paternity action, but you can not change her name.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/8/2012
    Barbara Fontaine, Esquire | Barbara Fontaine
    To get sole custody, you must file a motion in Family Court. One month is a very short time to decide on the child's father. Maybe he will be fine. You should get the custody first, then think about the name.
    Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
    Replied: 8/8/2012
    Michael Apicella
    Michael Apicella | Apicella Law and Mediation
    You can file a Petitioner to Establish Parental Relationship at your local county family court. As part of such Petition, you can request the custody orders you want, along with a declaration that contains facts which support your custody request. Best to hire a local family law lawyer to help you. If you can't afford a lawyer, you can seek free assistance at the court's "facilitator's" office. You can find such information on your local county court's website.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/8/2012
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    You fact summary is confusing and contradictory; if the "father" has not signed the acknowledgment of paternity papers provided at the hospital, that should indicate that no birth certificate showing the child's last name as that of the father has yet been issued unless you chose to have that last name used regardless of the lack of paternity confirmation. Since there is not yet anything to establish any presumption of paternity, you should be able to change the child's last name administratively; contact the Colo Vital Records department for more information. As to custody questions you should first understand that Colo no longer uses the term and "sole custody" isn't a meaningful term. More importantly, until there is a judicial determination of paternity and specific rights for the "father", he has no legal authority with any affect on your exclusive authority as the child's mother. So, until you are ready to open the door to possibly contentions and expensive legal proceedings, you don't need to do anything to preserve what you perceive to be "sole custody". If you wish to obtain financial support from the father you will need to begin legal proceedings to establish paternity and that might encourage the father to seek some specific rights to be involved in raising the child. You should consult an attorney for a better understanding of your rights and the possible options available to you so that you can make a decision consistent with your primary goals and objectives concerning the child's best interests.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/8/2012
    Slotnick & Schwartz
    Slotnick & Schwartz | Leonard T. Schwartz
    You must filed a Complaint in Court requesting sole custody. They might let you file for the name change in the same application although it is probable that a separate Complaint will have to be filed.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 8/8/2012
    Lombardi Law LLC
    Lombardi Law LLC | SUZANNE LOMBARDI
    In Alaska in order to get sole custody you must show the court that it is in the best interests of the child. The easiest way would be to get the biological father agree to sole legal and physical custody. If that is not possible an attorney can help you understand the criteria for best interests of the child and assist you in your custody issue. The attorney can also help you with the name change issue.
    Answer Applies to: Alaska
    Replied: 8/8/2012
    Law Office of Gregory Crain | Gregory Crain
    You have sole custody. Now all you need is a name change by the court.
    Answer Applies to: Arkansas
    Replied: 8/8/2012
    Law Offices of Cristian Towers | Cristian Towers
    You must file a motion with the Superior Court in the County where you reside with the child. You will need to provide the child's father with a copy of everything that you file with the court and supply proof that you did so (send it certified and regular mail). You will need to establish why it is in your child's best interest for her last name to be changed and for you to have sole custody. Be as thorough and detailed as possible. These requests are not granted easily, but if you can establish that the father will have no relationship with the child, despite your efforts to afford him that right, you may be successful.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 8/8/2012
    Law Office of William L Spern | William Spern
    In Michigan, the law allows a parent to terminate the parental rights of the other parent provided that the requirements of the law have been met. Should the father's parental rights be terminated, you can also seek to change your daughters last name to yours.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/8/2012
    Sedin Begakis & Bish | Mindy Bish
    If you are not married then you have sole custody. Until dad files a paternity action he is not the father under the eyes of the law.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/7/2012
    Dennis P. Mikko Attorney at Law | Dennis P. Mikko
    If his last name is already on the birth certificate, you would have seek his permission to change your daughter's last name. Assuming that permission was granted, the name change would require petitioning the court to do so. As for custody, you could bring a paternity (if he has not acknowledged paternity) or a custody action in the family division of your local circuit court. This would result in a determination of custody, child support and parenting time. If paternity is at issue, your local prosecuting attorney's office may be able to assist you.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/7/2012
    WARM SPRINGS LAW GROUP | Elliott D. Yug
    Terminate his parental rights. He will probably not agree to it. You can point out to him that he has 18 years of child support to look forward to. Based on that analysis he may not contest a termination of parental rights.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 8/7/2012
    Petit & Dommershausen SC
    Petit & Dommershausen SC | Tajara Dommershausen
    You have sole custody unless a court order says otherwise. There is a form that you can do from the state to change her name but it is within 30-60 days. Most of the hospitals have them.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 8/7/2012
    Salladay Law Office | Lance Salladay
    Under the circumstances getting what you say you want will probably not be that easy- at least not for a year. After a year if the father has not filed anything with the Department of Health and Welfare regarding paternity, and has not provide any support or had any contact with the child, then you might be able to have his parental rights terminated- but not after just 1 month. See an attorney if nothing changes in a year or so.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 8/7/2012
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
    If Paternity has not been established and there are no custody orders, then you have de-facto sole legal and physical custody and any time share is at your discretion. As for the name, a Petition for Name Change can be filed.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/7/2012
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
    If you want to seek custody orders, you should file a Paternity case under the Uniform Parentage Act. If you want to seek a name change for your daughter, you should file a Civil Action for the name change. The Court in the Paternity case won't order your daughter's name changed. You would best retain an experienced Family Law Attorney to represent you in both matters.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/7/2012
    Brunetti, Donnelly & Gulczynski | Meghan Gulczynski
    To obtain sole custody and change the child's name, you must file a complaint with the Superior Court of New Jersey and the father must be served with a copy of the complaint.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 8/7/2012
    Victor Varga | Victor Varga
    These are 2 separate issues. For custody, you need to file an action with the Circuit Court in the County in which you and the child resides. As for the name change, you can ask for it in the same action, but it is a different issue. If the father does not consent, then you will have to argue why it is necessary.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 8/7/2012
    Attorney & Counselor at Law
    Attorney & Counselor at Law | John Hugger
    You should immediately file a petition to determine parenting time, decision making, child support and a name change with the courts in the county where the child resides. How did the father's name get on the birth certificate.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/7/2012
    Clos, Russell & Wirth, P.C. | Gary A. Russell
    You cannot change the child's last name without consent from the father or order of the court. That being said, it is unclear what "paternity papers" from the hospital you are referencing. If the father is on the birth certificate (in Michigan) then that means that you and he signed an Affidavit of Parentage acknowledging that he was the father. That is sufficient to establish paternity, if a paternity action is ever commenced. However, the hospital does not commence such legal actions, either one of the parties files an action, or if you are receiving state aid for the child, the state may commence the action. It is in that action that custody, parenting time and child support is determined.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/7/2012
    Diefer Law Group, P.C.
    Diefer Law Group, P.C. | Abel Fernandez
    You can file a motion for name change.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/7/2012
    Darrell B. Reynolds, P.C. | Darrell B. Reynolds
    It appears right now you have sole custody. In order to change the child last name you have to file a petition in court for a name change. However, if the father decides to legitimate the child then he would have the right to have the child's name change.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/7/2012
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    Your first mistake was not naming her with your name at the outset. Under the present circumstances it may be easier to change the name now as your daughter, legally, has no father. Regarding custody, I would tend to leave that alone presently as, until he acknowledges or establishes paternity, has no legal rights. These are general answers and I would need more information to provide firm advise.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/7/2012
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