How to Change a Child’s Name in New York

In the State of New York, a minor is anyone under the age of 18. Changing a minor’s name can be accomplished by petition to the County or Supreme Court by their legal parents or guardian.

Once the petition is made, however, there are several clerical steps the petitioner must take. Making sure the correct forms are completed and submitted is critical, as the court will determine whether the name change is in the child’s best interests and that the change is not being made for deceitful purposes (e.g., to avoid financial obligations). The courts are likely to accept name changes for any legitimate reason, but the process to do so must be done thoroughly and properly.

Petition and Consent

First, if you are thinking about filing a petition to change a minor’s name, both you and the minor must be residents of New York for at least six months, and it must be filed in the county where the minor resides. The form must be filled out by a legal parent or guardian, or “next friend” of the minor.

If the child has another, non-custodial biological parent, that parent must be notified of the name change and provide their written consent. They can do so by filling out the proper form, which must be notarized. If the other parent does not provide their consent or refuses to fill out the form, you will have to serve them a “Notice to the Non-Petitioning Parent” form and fill out an Affidavit of Service–both of which can be obtained at your local courthouse. Additionally, if the child in question is over the age of 14, they may need to fill out a consent form as well, but this depends on the county the petition has been filed in.

The last vital document you will need to fill out if you are filing for a minor’s name change is the “Order Granting Leave to Change Child’s Name,” which authorizes the name change if your petition is approved.

Gather and File Your Documents

In addition to the notarized “Petition for Individual Minor’s Name Change,” “Consent to Minor’s Change of Name,” and “Order Granting Leave to Change Child’s Name,” you will also have to show proof of where you and child reside, provide a certified copy of the child’s birth certificate, and pay the filing fee. Once you have gathered all of these documents, bring them to the Clerk of Court’s office at your appropriate court to file your petition and pay the fee. If you do not have the means to pay the fee, you may ask the Court for a fee waiver.

What Happens After You File Your Petition?

After you have successfully filed your petition, it will either be approved without a hearing or the court will set a hearing date. If the name change is approved without a hearing, a copy of your “Order Granting Leave to Change Child’s Name” will be sent to you, completed and signed by a judge. If the court sets a hearing date, you will need to attend, bringing copies of all the documents discussed above. You will have to explain your petition for the minor’s name change and the judge will consider any reason to deny the name change. Reasons to deny the name change may include: the new name chosen is offensive or there is suspicion that the name change will help you commit fraud, avoid the police, or avoid paying financial obligations. If the petition is approved, the judge will sign your “Order Granting Leave to Change Child’s Name.”

You may be required to publish your child’s name change. In this case, you will have to submit a copy of the signed “Order Granting Leave to Change Child’s Name” in a local newspaper, which you will either select or have assigned to you by the court. You must publish the name change within 60 days from the date that your child’s name was approved, and file a copy of the publication as proof within 90 days of the approval date. After filing proof of publication, you can obtain certified copies of your signed court order. At least two certified copies of the signed “Order Granting Leave to Change Child’s Name” is necessary to complete the name change process for a minor.

Following the court’s approval, it is up to you to change your child’s name on any official documents and registration papers.

Other Ways to Change a Child’s Name

There are a couple other ways you can change a child’s name. If you are the parent of the child in question, you can change your own last name and your child can take your new last name if the other parent agrees. It is also possible to add one parent’s last name to the child’s last name, thus combining both parents’ names, if agreed.

Most if not all of the forms necessary to change a child’s name can be found on the official New York Courts website.

Benefits of Hiring an Attorney to Help with a Name Change

When you do not hire an attorney to represent you in court and instead represent yourself (or in this case, your child), it is called pro se representation. Although pro se representation is common in name change cases due to the fact that you only need to meet requirements rather than argue a case, it is not necessarily more beneficial than hiring a lawyer that specializes in name changes.

Hiring a legal team that is experienced in name changes–like those at Rosenblum Law–can save you time and lessen any worries you may have about the process being completed efficiently and successfully. One of our attorneys will address any issue that arises, help you understand legal jargon or the applications themselves, and ensure that there are as little mistakes made as possible. If you try to go it alone and there are any major mistakes made in what you submit, you may have to begin the process again and pay for the filing fee and court date a second time. Additionally, having an attorney speak on you and your child’s behalf may bring you peace of mind if you are not comfortable standing and speaking before a judge in a courtroom. Call 888-815-3649 for a free, no-obligation consultation today.

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