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.
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