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Can You Change Your Child’s Surname After Divorce?

A divorce will bring about numerous changes in a family. One can even say that there is no family anymore since there would only be a parent and a child in one home, with the other parent somewhere else. 

Aside from the physical changes, there would also be legal changes, and that could reflect in the name of the divorced wife if she decides to use her maiden name again. However, the name of the child is a different matter.

How to Change a Child’s Surname After Divorce

After a divorce, the child’s name will still remain the same. Even if the mother decides to change her name and she has the primary custody (physical and legal), the surname of the child will not automatically change with hers.

The Texas Family Code requires one to undergo certain steps before they can legally change the name of a minor. Even if they remarry, and the children will have stepparents, the child will not change his surname unless they file a petition.

The next step will be the verification before the actual court order. Before this can happen, all the parents, guardians or conservator should sign their own verification of the petition. In other words, everyone must agree to the name change, and there is a need to cite a good reason for it.

The verifications will have to be signed by all parties in the presence of a notary public. The notary will then verify that the parties concerned signed the petition in their presence. If the child is over ten years old, then he/she should express their consent on the petition. There is a separate form for that.

Judge’s Decision

The judge will hear out the petition and will ask the petitioner on their reasons for the name change. The sole basis for judgment is whether the change of surname is in the best interest of the child and also for the general public. The judge will then ask for any objections before he makes the decision to approve or deny.

The petitioner should then proceed to make sure that the signed order is filed in the Court office, and in some counties, you are required to do it yourself. The next step is to change the name in all the legal documents of the child. This includes the birth certificate and the State Identification card.

The change of surname does not affect the prevailing custody arrangements in any way. Agreement to the petition is not a concession of visitation rights or any previous decree of the court.

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at

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