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I have a 8 yr. old, parents deseased,Ive had custody since he was 5 and want to change his last name to ours.

Paragould, AR |

Mom died 1 and a half yrs. ago, leaving us him. Ive got all documentation I need as far as the soc. sec. benefits,school, doctors. Everything that says and proves he belongs to us. The last name on his birth certificate isnt even his. Im his mom now and we want the name to carry on. My question is, are there any documents or such that I could get anywhere to fill out on my own, with out alot of legal fees and file myself? I had to take him to a specialist lately and let me know I probably could and if I dont I could run into troubles if he needs more specialists attention. Any info would be a big help. Where we live in Arkansas, people arent used to kids with spanish last name. He wants it as well. Both parents are dead and I also have a hand written, notorized custody paper from her.

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Attorney answers 2


First of all, mom's "handwritten, notorized custody paper" does not give you custody. Only a court order does that. It certainly does not make you his "mom" now. In order for you to become his mom, you have to adopt him. Right now, you are merely a caretaker -- not even a legal guardian, since there is no court order granting you guardianship. You need to file to adopt him. At the time you adopt him, the court will change his last name to yours and he will legally be your son. If you don't want to actually adopt him, then at the very least, you need to file for legal guardianship over him. You don't mention his father, other than to say he is dead, but if there are other relatives out there (grandparents, for example), they could have a legitimate claim and if you don't get guardianship, or adopt him, you could find yourself served with papers that remove the child from your household.

Please talk to a good family-law lawyer in your area right away, and get this taken care of before you have a mess on your hands. If you click on "find a lawyer" at the bottom of this Avvo site, then put in "family law" and "Paragould, AR", you will be able to find a good one.

Good luck!

No attorney-client relationship is established with this answer. It is not to be considered legal advice, but is merely given to point you in the right direction and give you a general answer as to the law regarding the question you have asked.



The federal gov. says I am his guardian. Ive done everything a mother should do. I left fl.with a birth cert. and the hand written letter signed by her, his Gr.father, who is nearly 80 and dying of cancer. It was very easy to enrollhimin kindergarden here. He had been enrolled in fl.but never got to attend. His father was also an illegal immagrant. Yes maam,we are his family, all he has. You may read further on this subject below as I tried to explain further to Mr. Scholl. Im ignorant to arkansas laws but I know in the state of florida, a person can do their own paper work for everything you have mentioned. Frankly, Im not to ignorant to fill out papers and file them. She was never in his life since birth. She had given him to a "friend" like she has his younger sibling. He has seen alot. She married numerous illegals, all the children were from diff. fathers. We asked her to let us bring him back to Ar. untill she could get off drugs. She used him, my boy in every way possible. Hud housing, food stamps, income taxes..You nameit. NEVER did she call on his birthday. I had no way of contact with her as she changed her phn number numerous times. I inquired with an attorney a good yr.before she over dosed and there was a way to go directly from guardianship to adoption then. I waited to give her a chance as well as stable this child to a normal life. Ive fed him doctored him schooled him and have had him in therapy for alot of problems. I thank you for your opinion and I do appreciate your 2 cents worth. I was asking if in this state, are there documents that I can fill out and file, step by step. I will never let him down. Thanks again. W.J.L.


Ms. Reece's answer is spot on. Many people are under the impression that because a parent writes out something on a piece of paper and has it notarized, that the notary makes the writing a legally binding document -- but it does not. The jurat of the notary simply means that the notary has verified that the document was actually signed by that person.

This response is for information purposes only, it does not create any attorney-client relationship. Responses to questions posted on this Forum are of a general nature only. Because it is not possible to have all of the facts of your issue addressed in this forum, you should consult with an attorney to review the unique circumstances specific to your situation.



Thank you very much. No, I see I didnt mention that the father was an illegal immigrant. No other family to be concerned with either. I will take this advise and contact an attorney. I had contacted an attorney long before the mother died to inquire about adopting him because I had no idea of her where abouts, except florida. At that time he said she could be found in neglect and they could post in the news paper where she last resided. She gave 1 younger child to a stranger and the child I have was reared by an outsider since birth. I didnt find out all of that untill I got her death cert. showing she had married numerous immigrants. Just want him to know we do love him and will be there with him till I die. He has been through alot as well as us. She had been drawing assistance through the state as well as income taxes on the children. Ive raised my children, have 16 gr. children. Just seems like morally, there should be a law. Again, thank you both. If thats the only way to get his blood mothers name, as well as his uncles then that will be what I have to do. Im ignorant about alot of things, mainly Arkansas laws. I know in florida a person can obtain their own legal papers and file them for court. Like divorce kits and others. Thanks so much, yes, I am his mother,and Im the only one he has had, since the other lady at first. He will never be forsaken again. He does not call me mom, that will be on his own. Although he talks to others as Im his mom. I believe in my heart, there should be some law that could help me, but again, I will contact an attorney. I appreciate your time very much. Sincerley, W.J.L.

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