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How can we change a stepchild last name before the official adoption?

Las Vegas, NV |

I got married and changed my last name to my husband's last name. My son, that was born way before the marriage, has my maiden last name. His biological "father" is officially unknown. We are trying to do adoption, but it takes too much time... Can we change the kid last name to our family name, that me and my husband have before the adoption??? The kid is going to school very soon and we what him to have all his documents on our family name. If we can legally do it, where should we go and start?? thank you

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Attorney answers 3


Yes, you can petition to have the child's name changed. However, you must still notify the bio dad, typically accomplished through publication. The process is not difficult, and forms should be available through your self-help center. The adoption process takes very little time. I believe you are referring to the termination of parental rights process, which must be done before an adoption can occur. Even that should not take more than 3-4 months (considering publication time) but trying to do it without an attorney can be very difficult. If your true goal is to get this child adopted by his step-father, sit down with an attorney in your geographic area to learn how to do it right, and fairly quickly. There are many attorneys who do these at very reasonable prices, and even flat fees for terminations/adoptions expected to be uncontested.

Responses are for general information purposes only, and are based on the extremely limited facts given. A consultation with an attorney experienced in the area of law(s) indicated in the question is highly recommended. Information and advice given here should not be relied upon for any final action or decision, as the information is limited by its nature to the question asked and the fact(s) presented in that question. THIS RESPONSE DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY/CLIENT RELATIONSHIP, particularly considering that the names of the parties are unknown.



Thank you very much for your response. How do you do this publication if the kid was born abroad. I mean that unknown father definitely has never been to USA. Do you still do this publication at the place this kid now lives?? Thank you again

Jill K. Whitbeck

Jill K. Whitbeck


You will need to ask a local attorney for what your judges require. Generally a name change only has to be published locally.


You can change the child's last name but must notify or attempt to notify the biological father. Best of luck to you.

This information is provided as a public service to provide a general answer and should not be relied upon as legal advice.


Adoption is not a very long process. Even the name change takes time due to the required publication. Mrs. Whitbeck is correct, if adoption is your goal, you should start down that road.

This response is not intended to create an attorney client relationship. The response is solely intended to answer the question presented. Additional facts and issues are unknown to the responding attorney. Should you still have questions, legal assistance should be sought by making an appointment to meet with an attorney, rather than attempting to resolve the issue via e mail. This response is merely provided to give direction to assist you in the decision of whether you should contact an attorney or not.

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