This is a question that we at Skillern Firm have been asked frequently. There are many reasons for wanting to change the name of a child. Perhaps it is to keep the name of the child and the parent who has custody the same. Perhaps a name is a family name and a parent feels that it is important for the child to keep that legacy. Perhaps one of the child’s parents has disappeared from the child’s life.
Who can File for a Child’s Name Change and When must it be Filed?
In Texas, a parent, managing conservator or a guardian can file a petition to change a child’s name. There is no time limit for filing a petition to change the name of a child in Texas. However, if the child has become an adult (either by turning 18 or the Court removing minor status), then it is likely that a Court will consider the issue to be moot because the now-adult can file for such a name change on their own. As a Petition, like a lawsuit, the request must be filed in the county where the child resides.
What do I have to Show or Prove?
A petition for a name change must generally show the following:
- The current name and address of the child;
- Whether the child is subject to sex-offender registration requirements; and,
- The reason for the name change.
The third requirement, the reason for the name change, is the more difficult requirement of the three to digest. As with most things related to children, the Court will want to know why it is in the child’s best interests to grant the name change. Some of the factors that the Courts in Texas have weighed in determining whether a name change is in a child’s best interest include:
- Avoidance of anxiety, embarrassment, inconvenience or confusion for the child;
- A desired name would easier or more convenient for a child;
- To help identify the child as part of a family unit;
- How long the present name has been used;
- Parental non-support or lack of contact;
- Degree of community respect associated with the current and desired name;
- Whether the change in name have affect the bond between the child and a parent;
- The preference of the child and the child’s age and maturity; and,
- Whether it is in the public interest.
What if my Child wants to Change their Name?
If the child is at least ten years old, their consent must be attached to the Petition. Regardless of the age of the child, age is still just one of the factors to be considered by the Court. The decision to grant a child’s name change is always entirely up to the Court. But note that there is no Constitutional right for a child to bear one parent’s name over another. Generally, the parent’s interest and desire to change the name of a child are only a secondary consideration with primary consideration given to the child’s best interest.
Call our office at (713) 229-8855 and speak to one of our experienced family lawyers if you want to talk to us about changing your child’s name. We are here to help you as we have helped many others.
* At Skillern Firm, we pride ourselves on the results we have achieved for those we help. We stand ready to assist you with any of your Family Law needs. Contact us today. https://skillernfirm.com/