Divorce can be emotionally draining, especially if you have children through your marriage. For moms who return to their maiden name after divorce, you may also have questions about how to change a child’s last name in Texas.
For example, if you were granted full custody of your children, you may want your kids to take on your maiden name instead of retaining the last name of your former spouse.
To erase memories of your ex’s last name, there are some specific legal challenges you will need to overcome. Let’s take a look at how this works in Texas.
Critical Information About How to Change a Child’s Last Name in Texas
Changing a child’s last name after a divorce is a complicated legal process because there are many factors involved. Let’s examine some key elements you need to know.
1. The Court Will Act in the Best Interest of the Child
According to the Texas Family Code, the primary determinant in cases involving the parent-child relationship is whether a change is in the best interest of the child.
Going back to our earlier example, if you were granted sole custody of your child, it may be in their best interest to take on a different last name. This could be because your spouse was abusive, neglectful, or harmed you and the child in other ways. For the child to develop in a healthy manner following the divorce, the court may agree that it would be beneficial for them to take on your maiden name.
However, if you were awarded joint custody with your ex-spouse and/or the child is still on good terms with your ex, then the court may deem it not a good idea for the child to change their last name. This decision is typically made because the court prefers for both parents to maintain involvement in the child’s life. Granting a name change could negatively impact the relationship with the other spouse.
2. The Other Parent Has A Say in the Matter
Your ex-spouse does have the ability to argue against a name change for their child. Attempting to formally request a name change for your child could re-open old wounds from the divorce proceeding, so it’s important to assess the status of your relationship with your ex.
- Do you think your ex-spouse would consent to a name change?
- Are you still on speaking terms with your ex to where you could have a conversation about a potential name change?
- If you are not on speaking terms, how do you think your ex would respond to a formal request for your child’s last name to be changed?
Take an assessment of the situation to gauge how your ex-spouse might react to the situation. This step will help you determine whether to legally request a name change for your child.
3. Your Child Might Also Have a Say in the Matter
Another key consideration is whether your child will have a say in the matter. In the state of Texas, children who are 10 years of age or older must consent to a name change.
If your child is younger than 10, then you can act on their behalf formally requesting a change to their last name. However, if your child has reached double digits in age, then the court will consider the wishes of the child when making a ruling.
4. You Will Need to File a Formal Legal Request
If you decide to proceed with a legal request to change your child’s last name, you will need to file a legal document known as a Petition to Change the Name of a Child. The document will request the following specific information:
- Your basic personal information
- Your child’s personal information
- The specific name change request
- An explanation of why you are requesting the change
- Information about the child’s other parent
- Information about any other person who has access to the child (e.g. grandparent)
- The age of the child (older or less than 10 years old)
- Any existing court orders pertaining to your child
- A request for the court to make a judgment regarding the child’s name to be changed
If your child is age 10 or older, they will also have to sign a document explaining why they are consenting to the last name change.
Once you submit the required information and pay the filing fee to the court clerk, the court will schedule a hearing at a specific date and time.
Your ex-spouse will also be served with a notice of the request by a sheriff or private process server – unless your ex-spouse is waiving their right to be served, you do not know how to locate your ex, or the other parent is dead.
5. A Judge Will Determine the Final Outcome of Your Request
During the court hearing, you will have the opportunity to further explain why you believe the name change is in the best interest of your child.
If your former spouse attends the hearing, they will also have the opportunity to present an argument stating why they believe the child’s last name should not be changed.
Upon hearing the arguments and reviewing the petition, the judge will make a final determination of whether to grant the name change for your child. If they agree to the name change, they will sign a court order formally recognizing the new last name for your child.
You will be provided with certified copies of the court order. You will then have the opportunity to update the child’s birth certificate, request a new Social Security card for your child, and change other legal documents.
– The legal process is complex and requires expertise in family law matters. To support your case, it’s best to work with a family law attorney who will advocate on your behalf and present the best possible argument to the court.
Work With a Family Law Attorney to Support a Name Change
Our team of family law attorneys at Parker & Aguilar are committed to helping parents resolve divorce-related legal matters. We will work hard to provide you with expert legal support that fits your situation and needs.
First, we will understand your situation and reasonings for pursuing a name change for your child. We’ll also answer your questions and help you get started on the process of filing the appropriate legal paperwork in the county where you and your child reside.
We currently support parents in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Galveston County, and Matagorda County. If you live in one of these counties, contact us today to learn more about how to change a child’s last name in Texas.
You can reach our offices at 979-267-7660 (Angleton office) or 281-944-5485 (Sugar Land office) to speak with one of our helpful attorneys. We are prepared to help you and your family completely move on from your divorce.