Traditionally, a spouse takes the last name of the other after marriage. The child gets the family’s last name. Unfortunately, when a marriage ends in divorce, child custody can be a contentious issue. After the divorce is finalized, a spouse, often the mother, may choose to change her name back to her maiden name and the surname of her child to match. Sometimes, courts in North Carolina let parents make this change. An experienced charlotte family law attorney can guide you through any legal issues that may arise and recommend legal action you can take if your ex-spouse does not agree to your child’s name change. A great attorney knows that divorce and child custody are emotional issues and wants to help you with any legal issues you may face during or after your divorce.
The Court Considers the Child’s Best Interest
If a court makes decisions that involve children, the judge takes into account the best interest of the child. The name of a child is linked to their identity and changing it may cause emotional distress. Also, changing their surname may damage their relationship with their father.
Therefore, you should take this decision seriously. Before you change your child’s surname, you must ensure you preserve the best relationship between your child and both parents. State laws have specified when you can change your child’s last name after divorce. These include if both parents permit the change, if one parent dies, if the non-custodial parent abandons the child, and if the child has reached age 16 and wants to change their name.
How the Name Change Process Works for Minors
Changing the name of a minor in North Carolina starts with filing an application with the Clerk of Superior Court. A parent who has the consent of the other or both parents can file this application. If the child is more than 16 years old, they may file their own name change application with the consent of the custodial parent if the other parent has abandoned the child. The application will be reviewed by the court which will grant or deny it based on the information presented.
When the application is approved, the Clerk issues an Order that contains its findings and forwards it to the State Registrar of Vital Statistics. The Registrar will forward the Order to the state of birth of the child if they were not born in North Carolina.