How do yougo about changing the name of a minor child?

UPDATED: Aug 24, 2011

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How do yougo about changing the name of a minor child?

My wife and I want to change the last name of her 8 year old. He is from a different relationship and she and the biological father were never married. No legal custodial rights have been awarded. He lives in another state pays no support and has not seen or anything for the child. Can we change his last name to my name without the “other” guy involved or do we have to hunt him down and try to find him?

Asked on August 24, 2011 Oregon


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately the answer to your question is yes, to some extent.  Although your wife has never sought to establish custody or support with the boy's biological father, it does not mean that his rights do not exist.  It is unclear here if he even knows of the child's existence.  If he does and he really does want nothing to do with him it is possible that he may voluntarily agree to terminate his parental rights.  But are you going to adopt the child?  Because the courts do not like to terminate the rights of a child to support, inheritance, etc., unless there is some one waiting in the wings (and the two proceedings can be done at the same time).  Seek legal help. Good luck.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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