• 925-480-7850
  • 111 Deerwood Road, Ste. 200,
    San Ramon, CA 94583

The short answer is yes. California law does permit parents to change the children’s last names. With the permission of the court or the agreement of the other parent, you may you change the child’s last name completely, hyphenate the child’s surname, or add another middle name. Name changes are not solely a divorce issue; however, this article is looking only at this issue from the divorce perspective.  Before you bring up the issue, I recommend that you consider the following. First, consider why you wish to change the child’s name. Second, consider the impact that the change will have on your child(ren). And third, consider the other parent’s reaction to such a request.

What is your motivation?

Divorce is a time of substantial loss. Even if the loss is for the best, the upheaval caused by a divorce can put you on an emotional roller coaster. So if you find yourself suddenly rethinking your child’s family name, take a step back and ask yourself why? Is this change going to improve your relationship with your child? Will it make the transitions you are going through any less painful?

How would my child take this decision?

Divorce is unsettling for all of the members of your family. No matter how big or small your children are; the changes will impact them. For the younger ones, the impact of your decisions during this time will not come until they are older; however, make no mistake the impact will still come. So before you pursue a name change for your child stop and put yourself in your child’s shoes. Will your child feel that the name change changes her identity? Will she feel more separated from her father parent with whom she no longer shares a name? Will she feel closer to you? Will extended family make her transition easy or hard? What about the kids at school? Do the benefits of the change outweigh the burdens that will be created?

What about your ex?

Yes, I am well aware that your exes’ feelings are the least of your concerns, but as the parent of a mutual child, we do not get to completely ignore the other parent’s feelings. Why? Because we need them to peacefully co-parent our mutual child and so when you are considering a name change before you even let the words leave your mouth or enter a legal pleading I strongly suggest that you consider the reaction of the other party. If you know that his or her reaction is going to be bad, then you may want to leave this issue alone for the sake of your child who needs both of her parents functioning at their best.

So do you ever recommend name changes?

Most times, I would not recommend changing your child(ren)’s surname during your divorce. However, there are circumstances where the name change might be welcome by the child in which case I would support the change. For the majority of cases that I have been a part of the desire to change the child’s name stems more out of the disconnection that the requesting parent feels as a result of the divorce. Or worse the anger that he or she has at the other parent. Those feelings will pass with time. So give it some time. Allow yourself some time to heal and allow your child some time to heal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.