child name change in Texas

Child name changes in Texas are governed by Chapter 45 of the Texas Family Code.  Requests to change the name can be filed by the parent, someone named as the managing conservator, or by a guardian appointed for the child in the county in which the child resides.  Any request to change the legal name for a child must include, among other things (see Section 45.002):

  • where the child resides (to establish that it is filed in the right county);
  • the child’s present name;
  • the requested name; and
  • the reason for the child name change.

If the child is over ten years old, the request must contain the child’s written consent to a change of their name.

The Family Code does not specify what sufficient reason are for the legal name change of a child.  As with other cases involving children, the court ultimately decides what it believes is in the best interest of the child and rules accordingly.

Section 45.003 lists parties who are entitled to notice via a “citation”.  This means that these are the parties who have to be served with papers requesting a child name change.  This is a lawsuit like any other lawsuit and requires that all interested parties, listed below, be notified of the proceedings:

  • a parent of the child whose parental rights have not been terminated;
  • any managing conservator of the child; and
  • any guardian of the child.

Some common scenarios which arise in a legal name change for children are as follows:

  • Mother wants to change the name of the child to the name of her new husband.  Ex-husband does not agree.  First of all mother must serve ex-husband with papers requesting the name change.  If ex-husband does not file paperwork letting the court know that he disagrees with the name change, after being served, then mother may get her wish.  However, if ex-husband files a response to the lawsuit, mother must set the case for trial and prove that it is in the best interest of the child to change their name.  This will be tough to prove in most instances.
  • Mother wants to change name of the child to her last name or her husband’s last name.  She was never married to the father of the child and has no idea where he is.  Father has not had contact with the child in years.  Mother must still serve the father with notice of the lawsuit.  For every child out there there is a biological father, and they must get notice.  If you absolutely cannot find the father, there are alternative ways to serve them, but you still must serve them.

If the biological father agrees to the name change, in most instances you will not have a problem.  The above scenarios are for situations where the father does not agree.

Another way that a person can change the name of a child is through an adoption where their parental rights are terminated.  When rights are terminated, there is no biological parent remaining in that position so that when a new parent steps in (through the adoption) the child can assume their name.

Finally, in a situation where a father is establishing his parental rights through a paternity action, the courts will typically give the child the last name of the father or a hyphenated version of the mother and father’s last name with the father’s being last.

I hope that I have not confused you more than I have helped.  As always, comment if you have any general questions.  Thank you for reading.

69 Responses to child name change in Texas

  1. DON May 31, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

    MY WIFE (MEXICAN CITIZEN) AND I (US CITIZEN) HAVE A 6 YEAR OLD CHILD THAT WAS BORN IN MEXICO. WHEN WE WENT TO THE LOCAL CONSULATE TO GET A US BIRTH CERTIFICATE THEY PUT ON THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE HIS FIRST NAME, MY LAST NAME AS A MIDDLE NAME AND HER LAST NAME AS A LAST NAME. WE WANT HIM TO HAVE MY LAST NAME AS HIS LAST NAME – WHAT DO WE HAVE TO DO?

    DON

  2. Chris Schmiedeke June 1, 2012 at 11:35 am #

    File a lawsuit to change the name of the child.

  3. Tonya July 6, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

    I want to change my son’s last name to mine. When he was born, I put him in my fiancee’s name, but he was not present to sign the birth certificate. Since then (almost 5 yrs ago) he still has not made any attempt to accept paternity. Can I change my son’s name or will I need this man’s consent?

  4. michelle bulloch July 20, 2012 at 9:28 pm #

    my ex husband is in prision he has had no contact to my kids for over 10 years.i am remarried and my husband wants to change my kids name to his last name.how to i go about doing that.my ex husband after he is released from prision he is getting deported back to mexico he is not legal here.my kids r 13,13,and 14.how can i go about changing there last name without problems . michelle

  5. Casey brandes October 25, 2012 at 7:56 pm #

    My sons father and I were unmarried. He cheated on me when I was pregnant thus out relationship ended. Didn’t hear much from him through pregnancy until it got closer to my due date. When I went into labor, I did not let the father know. Instead I called him when we got home from hospital to let him know. Since my son was born his father has had very little contact in person or calling to see about my son. Now my son is 2 and we are going through court for child support and visitation. He is wantin to change my sons last name to his. Currently my son has my last name… Will a judge grant this? Any tips for me on proving it is in the best interest of my son to keep my (mother) last name?

  6. Ricardo Conde January 15, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

    I’m trying to find out what steps I need to take in getting my kids last names changed from their mother’s last name to my last name? Both my kids are in their early teens. Their mother will not agree to having their names changed to mine. What should I do at this point? Any feedback is appreciated.

  7. karla frazier June 30, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

    i had a daughter and my tubes tied in the same night so i was medicated and all i know is she has her fathers first name as her own . i have tried to get it changed thru austin but they wont help now she is going on 4 yrs old and i want to get her first name changed before she starts school . help please . what do i need to do . plus it makes me mad cuase i payed the fee to change to austin to .

  8. Stefany July 11, 2013 at 10:49 pm #

    I wanna get my sons last name to mines. The guy I though it was his dad is not but am I going to need any info about his real dad.

  9. Amedrano January 29, 2016 at 11:57 pm #

    How would I change my sons last name to my married name if its not his biological father but has provided for him since he was a baby & it’s the only dad he knws?
    His father has never been in the picture since he has been born I have no idea where he is & he doesn’t even knw about my son since he has left a long time ago.

  10. Jonathan F July 2, 2016 at 12:28 pm #

    I’m a stepfather, my wife and I would like to add my last name to my stepson name letting him keep he’s father’s name and adding mine. He hasn’t had contact with he’s father in a few yrs now and I would just like him to have the same rights the rest of my kids have in anything I may leave behind. Is that possible?

  11. Suzanna November 26, 2016 at 3:08 pm #

    I would like to add my grandpa last name to my name and to birth certificate. How do I go by doing that ? I am over 21 yrs old . I live in Georgia,Griffin.

  12. Amina April 27, 2017 at 5:22 pm #

    My sons Biological father and we were never married and is not on the birth certificate . And my ex husband named him and gave him his last name .. what rights do I have as a mother to change the whole name …

  13. Joe June 2, 2017 at 2:04 pm #

    My daughter has a hyphenated last name I pay my child support on a regular an my other kids have my last name can I change or remove the hyphen.. since my last name isn’t hyphenated

  14. Jaclyn June 6, 2017 at 6:48 am #

    If my son’s father and I were never married. I an now married with 2 children with my husband. My son wants so badly for our last names to be the same as me and his siblings. I was hoping to maybe meet in the middle and hyphenate his fathers last name with mine so he would have both. I know his father will not want to agree, so what can I do? and is it possible that I could have it changed by the judge if its a compromise of both names like I want?

  15. Chris Schmiedeke June 6, 2017 at 12:27 pm #

    If you do not have the father’s agreement, then you would have to ask the court to modify the name. In my experience, courts are hesitant to change the child’s name if the father is involved in the child’s life, however it may be different where you are. Contact a local attorney and discuss with them.

  16. Chris Schmiedeke June 6, 2017 at 12:29 pm #

    If the other party agrees to it, or the Court orders it.

  17. April Soto October 7, 2017 at 5:35 pm #

    When my son was born the hospital had his birth certificate as”Boy” and my last name. when the birth certificate document was created he was given a first, middle and same last name. At the time we got his birth certificate the clerk was unable to remove from the temp birth certificate Boy. So she temporarily change the spelling to Ray and made it the middle name. Said would have to correct it through a judge. They contacted the biological father to ask consent to a name change and he waive the right to have his name included or to be included in any future decision. Since 2yrs old due to illness he’s been living with a relative. My son has always been in school registered with the full correct first and middle and last name he’s known it as his name his whole life. He is now 17 and would like to get a part-time job and a legal ID and his original birth certificate still shows Ray. Not Exavier. How would I request that he have a name change when it was a clerical error and his original birth certificate application has the correct name and all custody court orders have his correct name and his school records has his correct name just his birth certificate and Social Security do not.? Will I still need a judge’s consent or would I just need to file at the clerk’s office a name change.?

  18. Melissa October 17, 2017 at 12:59 pm #

    So how was my ex husband able to change our son’s last name without my permission?

  19. Chris Schmiedeke October 17, 2017 at 2:22 pm #

    You would need to check with the Court that ordered it. My guess is that he tried to provide notice somehow and was unable to. The court may have accepted that you were “served”. Talk to an attorney in the area where the order was entered and see if they can determine what happened.

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