When a couple marries, it’s common for one spouse to take the last name of the other spouse. If they have children, the child will usually take the name of their parents. If a divorce takes place, the spouse who changed their name may return to their original name. But what if they also want to change the name of their child?
Both parents agree to the change
When neither parent objects to changing a child’s name, the process is simplified. They can file a petition, together, requesting the change – this must be done in the county where the child resides. The petition needs to include the reason you are seeking the name change. The court will schedule a hearing at which you must appear and it will normally grant straightforward requests such as this.
One parent does not agree
If the other parent objects to the change, things get more complicated. You can still file a petition for the name change but you must do so on your own. As before, the court will schedule a hearing to decide the issue. But since the name change is contested, it will hear arguments from both parents as to why the change should or should not occur.
Because the objecting parent is entitled to be heard on the matter, there are specific notice requirements with which you must comply. The other parent must be formally served with notice of the upcoming hearing – how that service needs to occur depends on whether they live in California or out of the state. Depending on the circumstances, you may also be required to publish notice of the hearing in local newspapers. Proper notice will be the most complicated part of the name change process and the easiest to get wrong. If you need assistance, contact a professional who is experienced in California family law issues.