Name Change

People want to change their names for all different reasons.  Some people want to change their name at the end of a divorce.  Sometimes it is after a divorce or other life event.  Changing a name at the end of a divorce is one way to change a name but not the only way.  An adult can change their name  through a lawsuit just for that reason.  An minor child’s name can also be changed.

Ways to Change a Name

1)      In Divorce: In a Texas divorce, a party to the divorce can request a change of name in a pleading filed during the divorce.  Texas law provides that the name change to a prior name can happen as long as it isn’t being done to avoid debt or criminal prosecution.  In the divorce decree, the name change is granted and the new name is included in the decree.

2)     Separate from Divorce – Adult: It is a fairly simple and straightforward thing to do outside of a divorce.  An adult can file a lawsuit asking the court to change their name.  The adult will need to file a petition including several specific items including some criminal conviction information and fingerprints.  Again, as long as it isn’t being done to avoid debt or criminal prosecution, the court is likely to grant the name change, unless there is a particular kind of criminal felony conviction.

3)     Separate from Divorce – Child: This is a little more complicated than with an adult.  A petition is filed in the county that the child lives in, asking the court to change the name, like with an adult, but there is more to it than that.  Both parents need to be involved in this process.  A parent, managing conservator or guardian of a child may file this petition.  This can get complicated if there has been a divorce and one parent needs the agreement of the other parent.  The court may order the change, if it is in the best interest of the child.  If there isn’t an agreement between the parents, then it can become an issue for the court to decide if the name change is in the best interest of the child, considering the factors and evidence.  Some of the factors and questions that can be looked at to determine the best interest of a child are: what is the name being requested?, is the child with both parents frequently or mostly spending time with one parent?, is one parent uninvolved with the child totally? is the child always with the parent with a different last name? and what is the age of the child?.

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