Changing A Child’s Name

Let's Untie the Knot | Changing A Child's Name

When a couple gets married, one spouse typically takes the name of the other.  When they have a child, the child logically assumes that shared name.  But what happens when the couple wants a divorce?  What if the mother decides she wants to reclaim her maiden name but she doesn’t want to have a different name than her child?  Why should the father get to have the same name as the child simply because it is common practice?  Is it possible to change the child’s last name?  What is the process?

In order to change your child’s last name, you will need the court’s permission.  If you are an Oregon resident, you can file a petition to change a minor’s name in the circuit court or probate court in which you reside.  Sections 33.410 and 33.420 of the Oregon Revised Statutes establish procedures that the court must follow to order a minor’s name change.  A court is required to grant the petition unless it finds the name change is “not consistent with the public interest.”  When deciding whether it is in the child’s best interests to have his name changed courts consider a number of factors, including the length of time the child has used the other name, the strength of the relationship between the child and the party seeking to change the name, etc.  Because the “best interests of the child” is applied on a case-by-case basis, there are no hard and fast rules to ensuring the court will grant your petition.