Can I change my child's name?

So you are divorced and you resumed your maiden name without realizing that your last name and your child's last name will be different.  Can you change your child's last name to match yours?  Only if you satisfy the requirements in North Carolina General Statutes §101-2.  The name of a minor child may not be changed without the consent of both parents unless you fall within the exceptions, which are:

1.  A minor who is 16 years or older can file for name change if the custodial/supporting parent consents and the other parent has abandoned the child.

2.  A parent may file on behalf of the minor child for name change if the other parent has abandoned the child.

For numbers 1 and 2 you can show abandonment by presenting an order adjudicating that the other parent has abandoned the child such as termination of parental rights order.  This order can be filed at the same time as the application for name change. If there is no order of abandonment, the clerk can make that determination by conducting a hearing and giving the other parent an opportunity to be heard.  If the Clerk determines no abandoment, then the name change will be denied.

3.  A parent may file on behalf of the minor child for name change if the other parent has been convicted of felony or misdemeanor child abuse; talking indecent liberties with a minor child; rape of any other sex offense; incest; assault; and communicating a threat or any other crime of violence against the minor child.  The minor child getting the name change has to be the victim of the above listed crimes. You can file a copy of the conviction along with the application for name change.

4. A step parent is not a parent within the meaning of this statute, therefore, step parent consent is not required.

5.  Consent of a father, who has a child out of wedlock, and who has not legitmated the child and has not acknowledged the paternity of the child, is not required. Acknowledgement can be the father's name on the birth certificate, volunatray child support agreement, order or paternity, or the father paying pursuant to a child support order.

Usually, you have the burden to show good and sufficient reasons exist for the name change. You have to show more than just your desire to have the name change. You have to have a legitimate reason for the name change such as to avoid confusion on consent forms for medical records, school records, or applications for benefits or grants, or the child is upset that he/she has a different last name than the custodial parent.  In reality, if the name change is not contested, the hearing is usually waived and the Clerk will enter the name change order.


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