Can you change your child’s last name without letting the father know about it? Whose last name will your child get?
When your child is born, they can have whatever last name you want. It doesn’t matter if you want to have her keep the father’s last name. You can also have a hyphenated name. The only thing you need to worry about is that if you try to change your child’s name after the divorce, you need to show that it is in the child’s best interest. The court wants to go through a list of factors when deciding whether a name change is in the best interest of the child. There are six factors:
- The length of time of the last name used
- The effect of the change on the father’s relationship
- The effect of the change on the mother’s relationship
- Whether the child is in a new family
- Embarrassment of the child
- Symbolic role of the last name
Length of Time
If the child has had his last name for 12 years and the mother wants it changed, it is going to be very difficult. Courts don’t like to disrupt consistency. When the child has already gotten used to the last name it will be harder to show that it is in the child’s best interest to change the name.
Effect on Father’s Relationship
How is your child’s last name going to affect the father’s relationship? For example, a father has had sole custody of the child for 16 years and suddenly the mother wants to modify this. She writes down that she wants joint custody and to change the child’s name. Since the child has been with the father for 16 years there has been a lot of bonding between the father and his child. Trying to change the name will disrupt this especially because the mother was not around for 16 years.
Effect on Mother’s Relationship
Imagine the same scenario as above only reverse the roles of the mother and father. Courts hate disrupting consistency.
This is kind of like the brady bunch. New family, new brothers and sisters. If the child lives with them for a long time and starts to identify with the new family then it can be used to convince the court for the name change. This can possibly be very strong evidence especially if the other parent is not around.
Embarrassment of the Child
Is the child’s new last name going to be very weird? Are kids at school going to make fun of him? If so then it is probably best not to have his last name changed.
Symbolic Role to Father-Child Relationship
Even though a child doesn’t have to have a father’s last name, courts give some respect to this tradition. They want to balance the tradition of having the father’s last name with the relationship. For example, if the father hasn’t been around then there is no point of having the tradition. Courts want what is best for the child at all times.
How Can I Help?
If you have any more question about changing your child’s last name please contact me for a consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 626-227-1176 and ask to speak with me. Connect with me on Google+.
The Law Offices of Levon Kevorkian is a boutique firm located in Pasadena, California handling Divorce, Child Custody, and Criminal Defense cases. Our office is located at 1055 E. Colorado Blvd. Fifth Floor, Pasadena CA 91106.
Disclaimer: This blog post and other blog posts by me are not meant to be legal advice. No attorney-client relationship will be formed by these blog posts.