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Name Changes: Procedures for Minor Children and Adults after Divorce

Names are very important whether a paternity or divorce or legal separation or annulment. The procedures are different depending on which action is pending. As with many issues in family law, this can be complex and there are different procedures.

This article does not address name changes in civil court and only in family law court. Doppelt and Forney, APLC has experience in name changes in San Diego Family Court and can assist with this as well as other aspects of the case including alimony, child support, division of assets and debts as well as physical and legal custody.

Adult Name Change

In a paternity case, in San Diego Superior Court, there is no procedure for changing the name of the adult parents. Likewise, in a legal separation, there is no procedure for changing the name of the adult spouses. In an annulment, when granted, there is a procedure to have your former name restored. The same applies in a divorce.

Under Family Law Code Section 2080 (7), the name can be changed to restore the former name or birth name and cannot be changed to any name you would like. It does not matter whether the request to change the name was included in the petition or not. The name change can be incorporated and part of the judgment for divorce or nullity or a separate procedure including an ex parte declaration and request may be instituted after judgment is entered for this purpose.

The request for the change of name shall not be denied unless this is fraud and the fact that a parent has custody of a child who is a minor who has a different last name is not considered in the name change request.

Minor Name Change

This is much more complicated. If the parents agree, then the surname can be changed by court order and stipulation. If the parents do not agree, then the Judge’s will look to factors to consider.

One factor which is significant is the name on the birth certificate as being evidence of the best interests of the minor child. The Courts have considered that the consideration which is controlling is a determination of whether changing the surname of the child should be ordered [over the objection of one parent] is the child’s welfare.

This issue will require a court hearing and may require oral testimony and evidence. The legal procedure is to file a motion [Request for Order] for the name change and then serve the opposing party. If the Court orders that the surname of the child be changed, then a request can be made to amend the birth certificate in the County of issuance.

San Diego Divorce Attorneys

The attorneys at Doppelt and Forney, APLC have experience with issues in family law cases in San Diego including name changes. A confidential consultation may be a good way to start the process of the best way to do a name change for your individual case. Call the law office at 800-769-4748 to schedule for up to 30 minutes at no charge. The law firm accepts cases in all the court houses in San Diego County including El Cajon, Chula Vista, Vista and downtown San Diego.

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