What is the law regarding changing my minor child’s last name?

I have a daughter who will be 10 in a week. She has my maiden name. Her father is not around, other than an email once a year around her birthday. He has rarely paid child support, the last payment being 5 years ago and last contact with her was 6 years ago. He said in court that he did not care about changingher last name to his and that I could change it to mine after I was married. I am getting married after 8 years together and my husband-to-be plans to adopt. Can I change her last name to my married name in the mean time, or do I need to wait until the adoption?

Asked on September 10, 2011 under Family Law, Texas


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It is so wonderful that you and your daughter have found someone to be a stable father figure in her life after all these years.  There are a few issues here that you should address or consider with regard to your question.  First, the issue of support.  Although you may want to just close the book and walk away - and who could blame you - you may want to consider obtaining the past due child support or an order for it before your new husband adopts your daughter.  Under state law you may even be able to collect it after he adopts and that may be a better option of you think he would try and block the adoption because you have pursued this right.  I only say that because a chunk of money in a college fund for her at this stage in her life would be a great plus for you.  Now, you know that in order for your husband to adopt her your ex would have to give up his parental rights.  It sounds as if he would have no problem with it.  Once that is done it also severs his responsibilities to your daughter to pay support and it severs her right to inherit from his estate (except if you have a support order you can collect from his estate).  I would wait to change her name until adoption because you are still going to have to get his consent even now for that and you might as well not have to go to the well more than once, as they say.  Good luck to you all.

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