In New Jersey, a minor is anyone under the age of 18. Although they may want to change their name, they cannot do so on their own. However, the state allows a minor’s legal parent or guardian to file a complaint in Superior Court for the minor to assume another name.
This article will provide more information about the name-changing process for minors in New Jersey. We will also cover the benefits of hiring a Rosenblum Law attorney to help with the process.
Valid Reasons for a Minor’s Name Change
Parents may want to change the first and/or last names of their children for several reasons. Some of the more common motives for a minor’s name change include:
- Divorce: After a divorce, a custodial parent may want to change their child’s last name to match their own, especially if the parent resumes using their maiden name.
- Domestic violence: Domestic violence victims and their children may seek name changes to protect themselves from the abuser.
- Creating a hyphenated last name: Parents with different last names may want to create a hyphenated last name, such as Smith-Jones, to honor both parents.
- Mother’s marriage: If a mother marries someone who is not the biological father of her child and decides to change her last name to her new spouse’s last name, she may want her child to have the same last name.
- Change in family structure: A mother may petition for a minor’s name change if a previously absent father is now part of the family. Conversely, a mother may request a child’s name change if the father is no longer present in their lives.
- The child’s gender transition: A transgender child may request a name change to reflect their gender identity.
- Religious beliefs: If a parent has had a religious conversion, they may want to change their names to reflect their new religious beliefs. If the child has also converted, they may want to change their name for the same reason.
- Adoption: Most adoptive parents want their adopted child to share their last name.
Legal Requirements for Changing a Minor’s Name in New Jersey
Per Application of Pirlamarla, 208 N.J. Super. 112 (Law Div. 1985) and Raubar v. Raubar, 315 N.J. Super. 353, 362 (Ch. Div. 1998), the New Jersey name change statute allows “any person” to change their name. This means permanent residents and other non-citizens can change their names in New Jersey, but minors need someone to do this for them.
Where Can the Name Change Be Done?
If you and your child live in New Jersey, you must file the minor’s name change paperwork in New Jersey. As such, even if your child was born in another state and their birth certificate was issued by that state, you and your child would apply for a legal name change in New Jersey. You can file the minor’s name change documents online or by mail. You will then go to court for the hearing.
What Are the Process and Forms Needed?
There is quite a bit of paperwork involved when someone wants to change a minor’s name in New Jersey. The following forms are required to jumpstart the process:
- Certification of Confidential Information (Form F1)
- Verified Complaint (Form F)
- Order Fixing Date of Hearing (Form G)
- Final Judgment (Form H)
The New Jersey courts provide a digital packet with these documents. After downloading and completing these forms, you and your child must take these 9 steps, which can also be handled by an attorney you hire to take the burden off of you:
- Prepare the $250 filing fee.
- File the papers with the court by uploading the forms to the Judiciary Electronic Document System (JEDS) or mailing in the forms.
- Review the papers returned by the court and note the case docket number for the minor’s name change case.
- Notify law enforcement about the name change application at least 20 days before the hearing date if you or the child has pending delinquent or criminal charges in New Jersey.
- Inform the State of New Jersey about the application for a name change by sending a copy of the Order Fixing Date of Hearing for the minor to the Director, Division of Criminal Justice.
- Notify the non-filing parent about the minor’s name change if you do not live with the other parent. If the other parent does not consent, the name change application will become a contested proceeding, and the judge will decide whether to grant the name change application using the best interests of the child standard.
- Complete and send a Proof of Mailing Form (Form J) for the minor to the court.
- Arrive in court on the date shown on the Order Fixed Date for Hearing and bring proof of the minor’s current name, such as a driver’s license, passport, or birth certificate.
- Order certified copies of the Final Judgment and Final Judgment Addendum, and send certified copies to the New Jersey Department of the Treasury, the registrar of vital statistics in the state where the child was born, and a set of certified copies to the New Jersey Motor Vehicles Commission if your child is a licensed driver.
What Will the Judge Consider During a Minor’s Petition for a Name Change?
Just because you request a name change for your minor doesn’t mean it will be granted. When weighing the decision, the judge will consider the following legal requirements for a minor changing their name in New Jersey:
- The minor’s age: The minor must be 17 or younger. People older than 18 should file an application for an adult name change.
- Whether you have a valid reason for requesting a name change for the minor: As the minor’s parent or guardian, you must have proper and reasonable cause for making the request. Valid reasons for a child’s name change include changing your mind about a newborn’s name or using a different family name after marriage, divorce, or separation.
- Whether you are changing the minor’s name for fraudulent purposes: The judge will not grant the name change if you are making it for fraudulent purposes, such as avoiding debts, defrauding people, or avoiding criminal prosecution.
- Whether you’ve sent a copy of the documents to the other parent: The judge will also consider whether you’ve sent a copy of the documents to the other parent’s last known address if you don’t live with the minor’s other parent.
Why Do You Need an Attorney?
Some people do not hire a lawyer to change their child’s name; they attempt to go it alone, without legal representation. However, the process can actually be more complicated than it seems. An experienced attorney will complete all of your paperwork on time, defend your case in front of the judge and your child’s other parent, and prepare you for the courtroom. Email or call Rosenblum Law at 888-815-3649 for a free case consultation today.
Frequently Asked Questions
Minors must fill in the following forms to petition for a name change in New Jersey:
Certification of Confidential Information (Form F1)
Verified Complaint (Form F)
Order Fixing Date of Hearing (Form G)
Final Judgment (Form H)
You can file documents by mail or online, but you will have to show up in court for the hearing.
In most cases, both parents will have to be notified and consent to the name change of the minor. However, if the court finds that the change is in the best interest of the child, they can order that the consent of the other parent is not needed.