The father of my daughter left the two of us at the hospital when she was born and never came back. After a couple of weeks went by he up and decided he would sign the AOP (Acknowledgement of Paternity), but he never sent it in to be finalized and kept denying she was his daughter. We split when she was 3 months old and he has not been in her life since. He also was in prison for domestic violence against myself for over a year. I have been in a relationship with the only man she knows as her father since she was 8 months old and we plan to be married. I would like for her to one day have his last name (Hopkins), but first I want to change her last name to mine (Herrera). Can I do this because he (her father) is not on her birth certificate? If not please help me to know what I need to do.
Family Law Attorney
There is a list of twelve (12) factors the court will typically consider before changing the child's name. These factors include: (1) whether the changed name or the present name would best avoid embarrassment, inconvenience, or confusion for the custodial parent or the child; (2) whether it would be more convenient or easier for the child to have the same name as or a different name from the custodial parent, either the changed name or the present name; (3) whether the changed name or the present name would help identify the child as part of a family unit; (4) the length of time the surname has been used; (5) parental misconduct, such as support or nonsupport or maintaining or failing to maintain contact with the child; (6) the degree of community respect associated with the present or changed name; (7) whether the change will positively or adversely affect the bond between the child and either parent or the parents' families; (8) any delay in requesting or objecting to name change; (9) the preferences of the child; (10) the age and maturity of the child; and (11) when the child maintains the mother's surname, assurances by the mother that she would not change her name if she married or remarried; and (12) whether the parent seeking the change is motivated by an attempt to alienate the child from the other parent.
Based upon these factors, I believe that you have a good chance. You will need to file a Petition for Name Change of Child.