Is it possible to change last name of minor child without afather’s consent?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2010

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Is it possible to change last name of minor child without afather’s consent?

Divorced mother with sole custody of 2 year-old minor child. Is it possible to change minor child’s name to Mother’s maiden name without the consent of the father? Father is alcoholic with a physically abusive temperament. Currently in severe trouble with the law.

Asked on October 2, 2010 under Family Law, Wyoming


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

It is possible to change a child’s name by petitioning the court for a name change and filing certain paperwork; this process varies from state-to-state. Many times you can fill out the forms yourself. In some states, the natural father’s consent is required; in others, it is not.  And is some you will at least need to show that you have notified, or attempted to notify, the child’s natural father of the child’s name change. The court will consider whether or not the name change is in the child’s best interests (ie the impact such a change will have on the child and what the other parent’s relationship with the child is like). It will thenaccept or deny the petition accordingly. To find out the specific law in your jurisdiction contact the clerk of your local county court or consult with a lawyer directly. 

Note:  Changing the last name of a minor child does not change the identity or legal obligations of the child’s father.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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