A court order is required to change a child's name from the name stated on their birth certificate. You may change the name of a child only if:
- You are the legal parent of the minor; or
- The minor has lived with your family for at least 3 years and has been recognized as an adopted child in your family.
If this applies to you, you should tell the court the reason for the name change. It will help the judge know why it is in the best interest of the child and why the name change should be approved.
The judge will consider:
- The wishes of the child's parents or anyone who has physical custody of the child (including step-parents, siblings, and step-siblings)
- The wishes of the child and the reasons for those wishes
- The relationship between the child and parents or anyone who has physical custody of the child
- The child's adjustment to home, school, and community
There are fees to change a child's name. The fees will vary depending on the county. Contact your circuit clerk to find out the fees. There may also be a fee to publish a notice in the newspaper and to change a child's birth certificate. If you cannot afford these costs, you can ask the court to do this for free. Learn more about filing your court papers for free.
If the parents or anyone who has physical custody of the child agree to the name change and come to court, the hearing could happen the day the court papers are filed or as soon as a judge is available. If they are not in agreement, it will take at least 8 weeks to change the name of the child.
Updated: January 2017