Whether you want to change your child’s last name during a marriage, during a divorce trial, or after a divorce has been finalized, there are certain legal processes you will have to go through to make the name change official. An official and legal surname change will involve changing your child’s birth certificate. Different factors will be considered by the court before a name change can be made. These factors revolve around the best interests of the child standard. Talk to a Tennessee family law lawyer if you have questions about changing your child’s surname. 

The Best Interests of the Child Standard

The “best interests of the child standard” is not only used in family courts for changing last names, but also for matters concerning child custody, visitation rights, and parental rights of their children. When it comes to changing your child’s

last name during a divorce trial, courts will use the  standard to assess whether the name change will affect your child psychologically. 

To determine this, they will first look at your child’s age. Younger children are less likely to be affected by a name change because they are too young to grasp the change. Their identity is still developing and a simple change to their last name will be less likely to bother them the same way this may bother an adolescent. Younger children have also been in school less and will less likely face incidents in school surrounding their name change. 

In situations where the child keeps the father’s last name and the father remarries, the situation can become complicated. Talking with an experienced lawyer on this matter can help you figure out what your options are. Some courts may not allow you to change your child’s name under certain circumstances after a divorce. 

Legal Ways to Change Your Child’s Last Name

In general, married parents tend to choose the father’s last name for their child on the birth certificate, but either surname can be decided by the couple. However, unmarried couples with children may face a different process. Mothers who are not married will have to take extra steps if they choose to list the father’s last name for their child. A lawyer can help walk you through these steps. 

Changing your child’s last name after a birth certificate has been created will require a petition. A petition will need to be filled out along with a notarized consent from the parents, the child if the child is at least 14 years old, and publication. This process may also involve a hearing with a judge to decide on the name change in the best interests of the child