Can You Change Your Child’s Last Name After a Divorce?

Posted by Jonathan Jerkins | May 04, 2022 | 0 Comments

After a divorce, you may want to change your child's last name for many reasons, including wanting to share your child's last name. No matter the reason, the decision to change a child's surname should not be taken lightly, as a name can be intricately tied to one's identity. That said, if you want to move forward, North Carolina law paves the way.

Requirements for Child's Name Change

For minors under the age of 16, one of the following criteria must be met to change their last name:

  • Both parents give consent;
  • One parent gives consent, and the other is deceased or has been convicted of child abuse, incest, assault, or several other violent or sexual crimes against the child or one of the child's siblings; or
  • The non-custodial parent has abandoned the child.

Note that “abandonment” — if it has not been determined by a court — may be determined by the clerk of court on a case-by-case basis, provided that the other parent has received sufficient notice of the proceedings. If the parent contests the abandonment allegation, a court will make the determination.

Name Change Process

To initiate the name change process of a minor under the age of 16, the child's parent, guardian, or Rule 17 guardian ad litem may file an application, which must include the following:

  • Child's current name
  • Date of birth
  • County of birth
  • Full names of parents on their birth certificate
  • The child's preferred new name

Note that if the child is 16 years of age or older, they may request a surname change themselves, though they still need the permission of their custodial parent if the other parent has abandoned them.

The court clerk will review the request and then, if granted, will forward an order to the State Registrar of Vital Statistics with the child's new name for recording; if the child wasn't born in North Carolina, the state registrar of the child's birth will be notified.

While the process of changing a child's name seems straightforward, several factors may arise — including objections by your former spouse — that could complicate matters.

The attorneys at Jerkins Family Law can help you navigate this process and ensure you get the results you want. Call us today at (919) 719-2785 or contact us online.

About the Author

Jonathan Jerkins

Jonathan "Jay" Jerkins, a native of Raleigh, North Carolina, intentionally focuses his practice on all aspects of North Carolina family law litigation and negotiations. Jay was admitted to the practice of law in North Carolina in 2014.


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

contact Us

Here at Jerkins Family Law, we are focused and deliberate in fighting for a better solution for you. Do you need a skilled and passionate attorney to protect what matters to you the most? Then Jerkins Family law is ready to navigate you to a perfect solution to serve your legal needs.