Names are a significant part of a person's identity; when your child was born, you (and perhaps their other parent) selected a name for your son or daughter. However, your child has come to you, and they desperately want to change their name. What are your legal options in this situation? You may have strong feelings about their desire to change their name. Are you obligated to agree with them and help them leave behind the name you chose for them when they were born?
What the Law Says
North Carolina law requires parental consent for minors to change their name legally. For the most part, both parents/guardians (or the guardian ad litem) must consent to the name change. There are three exceptions to dual parental consent. First, if a minor is 16 or older, and there is one parent who has custody and provides support, the minor can file with that one parent's consent “when the clerk of court is satisfied that the other parent has abandoned the minor.” The second situation is that a parent can file on behalf of a minor when the other parent has abandoned the child. Finally, a parent can file the application (without consent of the other parent) in instances where any of the following occurred toward the minor or their siblings. The other parent must be convicted of any of the following:
- Felonious or misdemeanor child abuse.
- Taking indecent liberties with a minor in violation of G.S. 14-202.1.
- Rape or any other sex offense in violation of Article 7B of Chapter 14 of the General Statutes.
- Incest in violation of G.S. 14-178.
- Assault, communicating a threat, or any other crime of violence.
In short, if your child badly wants to change their name, you're not legally obligated to do so. In fact, depending on the circumstances, if the other parent does not consent, you might not even be able to file on their behalf.
An Experienced North Carolina Family Lawyer Can Help
If you're not ready to legally change your child's name, consider letting them try out the name as a nickname. There are other options available that are less permanent and have fewer legal ramifications. However, if you are considering filing on your child's behalf, the lawyers at Jerkins Family Law are here to help with your name change needs. Contact them today by calling 919.719.2785 or reach out online