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Is It Possible to Change a Child’s Last Name After Divorce?

Handley LLC May 15, 2019

When getting married, one spouse usually takes the other's last name. Although in recent years this trend has become less popular, it is still a common practice. The child assumes the last name of the couple if that married couple has a child.

Now the couple finds that their wedding doesn't work. They choose to have a divorce. The mother decides not to have the last name of the dad anymore. She is, however, bothered not to share a surname with her child. Why should the father's name be the child's simply because in America that's standard practice?

Court’s Ruling on Last Name Change

In certain cases, you can agree to a change of name on your own. On the other hand, court intervention may be necessary on this particular issue, and you might need a family attorney in Oklahoma City, OK. The Court does not focus on your wishes or that of your spouse, as with virtually all other issues involving children in divorce; rather, their only concern is what is in the best interest of the child.

Please note that the request for a change of name is not usually a part of the Divorce Decree. It is instead a separate proceding following a divorce, although there are similarities between them. The courts will consider several factors to determine that a change of name is in the child's best interest, including:

  • How long the child's name has been what it is.

  • Whether or not a child has to identify with a new family unit (e.g., remarriage, two families want to combine under one name).

  • Strength and potential negative impact of a child's relationship to his or her father.

  • Any advantage in changing the last name.

Factors to Influence a Court’s Decision

When a mother submits a petition to change the surname of a child, a court will take several factors into account.

Relationship - If that dad has a good relationship with the child, the court will be reluctant to permit a mother to change the surname against the objection of a dad. In an attempt to change the name of the child, this father-child relationship can be viewed as an unnecessary casualty. However, if the father has not made efforts to become part of the child's life, consistently or deliberately fails to provide child support or is abusive, the Court may be inclined to approve the change in name.

Paternity – If couples are married, every spouse shall always be presumed to be a parent of every child born during the marriage. If paternity is not in question, it can be more challenging to change a child's surname. If a child was born before a parent got married or if legitimate questions exist concerning the paternity of a father, then the court may be inclined to accept a change.

Child’s Benefit - A court wants to find out why a mother wishes to change the last name of her child. The application to change the name may not be granted unless a judge thinks that this would be beneficial for the child.

You will have to go through a long legal process if you want to change the last name of your child after a divorce. It can be stressful if the other parent of the child does not want to change the name of the child. Recruiting a lawyer with experience in the treatment of complicated child custody and divorce can make life much easier. To learn more about how we can help you after your divorce, call our family attorney in Oklahoma City, OK.

** Disclaimer: This blog article is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.