Can a Custodial Parent Change a Child’s Last Name?

Can I change my child’s last name in Illinois? It depends on the circumstances. While a custodial parent can change a child’s last name, the process must take place in the courts and will only be approved if the judge believes the name change is in the child’s best interest. Learn more about what to expect from the name-changing experience and what you’ll need to do.

Can I Change My Child’s Last Name in Illinois?

There are many reasons why a custodial parent may wish to change their child’s last name, especially if the custodial parent is:

  • Single and about to remarry
  • Trying to establish paternity
  • Unable to contact the other parent
  • Dealing with an abusive relationship

With any of these situations, the Illinois courts will prioritize whether or not changing the child’s last name will improve their quality of life. Changing names may be more convenient for the parent, but if it doesn’t positively affect the child, a judge is unlikely to grant the request. The custodial parent bears the burden of proof, and factors such as bullying or wanting a fresh start may not be enough.

One way to sway the courts closer to your side is to get your child’s noncustodial parent to agree to the change. Without this parent’s consent, it will be exceedingly difficult to change your child’s last name. That being said, if your former partner is no longer in the picture and cannot be reached, this permission may not hold as much weight. Again, though, you’ll need to prove the severing of that relationship.

At What Age Can a Child Change Their Last Name?

In the state of Illinois, anyone under the age of 18 is considered a minor and must have parental/guardian consent to change their last name. This means that only adults have the ability to work through this process and must go through the proper court procedures.
Taking the above into consideration, the following are some points a judge will consider in regards to whether a custodial parent can change a child’s last name. Is the name change:

  • Consistent with the child’s wishes? What are the motivations for the child feeling this way?
  • Going to have a positive effect on the child’s familial relationships?
  • Going to make a positive impact on the child’s life outside of the home, such as at school or in their community?

Get Help with Changing Your Child’s Last Name

If you are a custodial parent looking to change your child’s last name and need some guidance, we can help. Our Oak Park and Chicago attorneys can offer advice on your specific circumstances; contact Conniff Law Offices to learn more.

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