In family law cases, a parent may change the name of a child.  However, certain requirements apply and consents may be required by the other parent.

What are the requirements for a child’s name to be changed?

A petition to change the name of a child must be verified and include:

(1) the present name and place of residence of the child; (2) the reason a change of name is requested; (3) the full name requested for the child; (4) whether the child is subject to the continuing exclusive jurisdiction of a court; and (5) whether the child is subject to the registration requirements of Chapter 62, Code of Criminal Procedure.

If the child is 10 years of age or older, the child’s written consent to the change of name must be attached to the petition.

What do the Court rule on name changes?

In re C.M.V., 479 S.W.3d 352 (Tex. App.—El Paso 2015, no pet.). The trial court did not become the court of continuing, exclusive jurisdiction because it never entered a final order and dismissed the divorce action less than two weeks after the child’s name change.

In re R.E.G., No. 13–08–00335–CV, 2009 WL 3778014 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi Nov. 12, 2009, pet. denied) (mem. op.). A trial court did not abuse its discretion when it ordered a minor child’s surname to include both parents’ surnames, even though the father requested only his surname in his petition.

In re A.J.P., No. 05–07–01772–CV, 2009 WL 369478 (Tex. App.—Dallas Feb. 17, 2009, no pet.) (mem. op.). The verification requirement also applies to name changes under Tex. Fam. Code ch. 160, provided that there are no conflicts of interest.

In re C.C.N.S., 955 S.W.2d 448, 449 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 1997, no pet.). A mother waived her argument that the father’s pleading was insufficient under this section because the mother failed to object, and she testified in the case.

In re J.K., 922 S.W.2d 220, 223 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 1996, no writ). A trial court erred changing the child’s name when the father’s pleadings did not comply with section 32.02, the former version of this section.

Ex parte Taylor, 322 S.W.2d 309, 313 (Tex. Civ. App.—El Paso 1959, no writ). In a suit to change children’s surname to that of their stepparent, who was awarded custody, the court held that the complaint correctly stated a cause of action.

What person has to be cited with the petition?

The following persons are entitled to citation in a suit under this subchapter:

(1) a parent of the child whose parental rights have not been terminated;

(2) any managing conservator of the child; and

(3) any guardian of the child.

Citation must be issued and served in the same manner as under Chapter 102.

In the case, Eschrich v. Williamson, 475 S.W.2d 380, 383 (Tex. Civ. App.—Beaumont 1972, writ ref’d n.r.e.), when a mother is trying to change the surname of her child to that of her second husband, the biological father is entitled to notice of the petition under the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution and the due course of law clause of the Texas Constitution.

A party to a suit under this subchapter may waive the issuance or service of citation after the suit is filed by filing with the clerk of the court in which the suit is filed the waiver of the party acknowledging receipt of a copy of the filed petition.

The party executing the waiver may not sign the waiver using a digitized signature.

The waiver must contain the mailing address of the party executing the waiver.

Notwithstanding Section 132.001, Civil Practice and Remedies Code, the waiver must be sworn before a notary public who is not an attorney in the suit. This subsection does not apply if the party executing the waiver is incarcerated.

The Texas Rules of Civil Procedure do not apply to a waiver executed under this section.

Does the Court have to change the name of the child?

The court may order the name of a child changed if:

(1) the change is in the best interest of the child; and

(2) for a child subject to the registration requirements of Chapter 62, Code of Criminal Procedure: and the change is in the interest of the public; and the person petitioning on behalf of the child provides the court with proof that the child has notified the appropriate local law enforcement authority of the proposed name change.

If the child is subject to the continuing jurisdiction of a court under Chapter 155, the court shall send a copy of the order to the central record file as provided in Chapter 108. A court determining the best interest of the child may consider: (1) the relationship of the parent requesting the name change with the child; (2) the child’s preference; (3) the child’s age; (4) the potential embarrassment to the child; and (5) other facts. While the court may consider these factors, the court has the ultimate discretion when deciding whether a name change is in the best interest of the child.

Always contact an experienced family law attorney when attempting to change the name of a child. There are requirements that may not be apparent to a parent which will cause delay and perhaps rejection of the petition if not properly filed with the Court.