In order to change the name of a minor in Florida, you will need to get a court order approving the name change. The following steps are needed:
• Have your fingerprints taken
• File a Petition for Name Change of Minor Children
• Get Consent or serve any parent not in agreement with the name change
• Attend a final hearing on the name change
• Get certified copies of the Order
• Change the name of the minor on identification documents
Legal Documents to Complete
The parents of the minor file a Petition on behalf of the minor. If both parents are in agreement about the name change, and both parents reside in the same county as the minor, they should file the Petition together. If one parent does not live in the same county as the minor, or they do not approve of the name change, the parent residing in the county of the minor may file on their own. The parent(s) filing the Petition will need to have their fingerprints taken with local law enforcement. If both parents are filing, both will have to have their fingerprints taken and attach them to the Petition.
Fill in all information known on the Petition. There is a supplemental form if you wish to make a legal name change for more than one child. Take the unsigned Petition before a Public Notary for signature. If both parents are filing together, both parents should sign the Petition. There are blanks for each parent to sign individually. No service or consent form is necessary if both parents are filing together. If only one parent is signing, leave the other signature lines blank. Do not sign the Petition until you are before a Public Notary.
There are additional notification steps you must follow if you want to change the name of your child without the other parent’s approval if you want to change the name of your child if you are the child’s guardian and not a parent.
File With Court:
Attach all documents to your Petition. Your Petition should have the fingerprint cards for each parent filing attached. Take the Petition, attached documents, and two copies of all to the Circuit Court Clerk’s office for the county where the minor resides. File the Petition and ask for a stamped copy back. There will be a fee for filing.
Set a hearing. The process for setting a hearing is different in each county. The Clerk of Court should be able to direct you to the proper procedure. Call one week in advance of your hearing to make sure you are still scheduled. If the name change is uncontested, the judge will likely grant your name change without a final hearing.
The Judge’s Approval or Denial of Petition:
Attend your hearing. If the judge decides to hold a final hearing, you should take a copy of all filed documents with you to court as well as a Final Judgment. Fill in the Final Judgment heading with the case information listed on your copy of the Petition. Fill in the remainder of the document and leave the signature line blank. If the judge grants your Petition, he or she will sign the original Judgment you brought with you. Have the Clerk file the document with your case and request certified copies of the Judgment for each office you want to change your child’s name.
Finish your child’s name change with the appropriate government records offices, like the Social Security Administration and the Vital Records Office in Florida. It is likely that each office will need a certified copy of the Judgment for their records.
Additional Steps for Filing without Parental Approval:
If you can, get consent from the parent(s) not filing the Petition. If one parent is filing and the other parent consents to the name change but lives in a different county, the other parent should fill out and sign the Consent form. The Consent form must also be signed before a Public Notary. Attach and file one Consent form for each parent not filing the Petition.
If a parent does not consent to the name change, they must be formally served with a copy of the Petition and hearing date after filing the Petition. Ask the clerk for one certified copy of the Petition for each parent that did not file the Petition or fill out a Consent form. If you know where the other parent lives, you must hire a Process Server to serve the copy of the Petition on the other parent in person. There are usually Process Servers available through your local Sheriff’s office. The Process Server should provide you with a Proof of Service document. If you absolutely do not know where the other parent lives, you may be able to use constructive service. For this service, you will publish the Petition in a newspaper or other location as a way of notifying the other parent. The laws regarding constructive service vary. You should ask your local Clerk of Court for specific information regarding constructive service for your case. They may refer you to legal consultation. You will need to file the Proof of Service with the Clerk’s office before your hearing date.
The steps for a guardian to change the name of a child are the same as the steps for one parent to change the name of their child (see above).
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.