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Can I Change My Son's Last Name?

Reno, NV |

When my son was 1-1/2, his biological father John was very abusive toward me and ended up getting arrested. He moved out and left the state to California. My son is now 4 and I have remarried. He does not know John is his biological father yet and he believes he has the same last name as myself, my husband and our daughter.

My ex-husband refuses to allow me to change my son's last name. He doesn't pay court-ordered child support and he has only spoken to my son maybe 5 times. He expresses interest in being a part of his life but he doesn't make much effort.

Can I legally have my son's name changed without his permission? Would he be required to show up to court? Is it likely that a judge would rule in favor of the change considering the facts? Would I need an attorney to handle this?

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Attorney answers 4


you need to give the father notice of the petition to change name and yes he can object. If he does there will be a hearing to determine if the name change is in the "best interest of the child." You should use a lawyer since it will be contested. I cannot tell you if you will succeed because that is up to the judge. Your attorney will discuss the liklihood of success with you.

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You need a lawyer. A name change likely does nothing to solve your problems and may only bring more. You would have to notify the father of the name change and with his objection you would probably lose. He also might then petition for visitation and/or custody rights, and that would really mess things up. You may be in a position to have his parental rights terminated, which would free the child for adoption by his step father. Discuss all your options with an attorney to decide how best to proceed.

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Your better option might be to initiate a termination of John's parental rights. If your new husband is willing to adopt your son, that will be seen as a favorable factor. You would certainly need to serve this kind of action on John, and he would have an opportunity to answer. An attorney would be essential to winning this kind of action.


You can go to the self help center at Family Court to get a packet for minor name change. You will need to send notice to the birth father and publish in the newspaper. He has the right to object. If he does not, the name can be changed.