The obvious answer to the title of this article is yes! Your child is not required to take the last name of your former spouse. As you know, you are also not required to still use it after the divorce. This still needs to go through the proper court process. And of course, the child’s best interest is still the standard to be followed when the court makes its decision.
If you wish to change the names of your children, it is an easier process if the other parent consents. If the other parent disagrees, keep reading this article to know how to change your child’s name after divorce.
Changing Your Child’s Name After Divorce
Normally, if the father actively does his parental duties after divorce, courts rule that their right to have his children to use his surname is an automatic right. Although there is an evident partiality in this rule, however, this is no longer the case. This is because the standard to follow is the best interest of the child. The last name of the child is changed through a court petition.
This petition is filed by the parent of the child, legal guardian or managing conservator. It is filed at the office of the district clerk in the county where the child resides. The filing fee is waived if the parent, legal guardian or managing conservator has a low income, provided they complete and file a Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs at the district clerk’s office as well.
The parent who wishes to have the child’s name change must let the other parent know about this unless the parental rights of the other parent have been terminated. If the other parent consents to this, both of the parents can file the petition together. If the other parent decides otherwise, the parent who wishes for the name change must have the disagreeing parent served with legal notice of the case by a sheriff, constable or private process server.
The courts consider a number of factors in deciding whether or not to grant a name change. These factors include the length of time the last name of the father has been used, the strength of the relationship between the mother and child, and if remarriage is involved, the child’s need to identify with his or her new family unit. These factors must be balanced against the importance and strength of the relationship between the father and the child and they must also meet the standard mentioned above.
It is also important to remember that even if the change of the last name of the child takes place, this does not mean that there is also a change in the legal recognition of their father’s identity. The name change will also not affect the duties and rights of either parent with regard to child support, visitation, or rights of inheritance. These changes only happen if the parental roles are specifically changed by court order.