Can My Child Legally Change His or Her Name?

There are many reasons a minor may want to legally change his or her name. Not liking your name is just as valid a reason for a name change petition as is changing your name to reflect a transgender name assignment. Ronan Farrow, the son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, famously rejected his parents’ assignment of Satchel as his name.

Many parents often change a minor’s surname following a divorce, marriage, or later re-marriage to reflect a common family last name. A child born out of wedlock may have his or her mother’s surname and after paternity is acknowledged may now reflect the surname of the minor’s father.

New Jersey courts generally will accept a name change petition for any legitimate purpose. Trying to avoid debts is not a legitimate purpose for a name change petition. To legally change your name, a New Jersey court order will be required.



New Jersey Name Change Law at a Glance

To change your name in New Jersey, a person must be over 18 years of age and file a petition to change his or her name in the county of residence. If the name change follows a marriage or divorce and relates to one of the spouses, this process does not apply.

Minors have an additional step, in the form of parental consent, that must be followed to have a name change petition successfully granted in New Jersey. These steps include:

  • Petition is filed by the minor’s biological parent
  • The minor must be 17 years of age or under
  • The parent must present a “proper and reasonable” cause for the name change
  • The name change cannot be for fraudulent purposes or to avoid debts


The minor petition must also contain the consent of the other parent (usually does not reside with the minor). If the voluntary consent of the other parent cannot be obtained at time of filing of the petition, the petition must be mailed to the last known address of the minor’s other biological parent by certified mail, return receipt requested, with proof of mailing attached to the original name change petition.

For more information about how to file an uncontested minor name change petition, click here.

Hire a Hackensack, New Jersey Name Change Attorney to Change Your Child’s Name

Name change petitions often fail for procedural reasons. The application can be incomplete, filed in the wrong county, or not contain the consent of the non-residential custodial parent. Sometimes the minor and custodial parent may not know the whereabouts of one of the non-custodial parent. Understanding the requirements to file a name change petition in New Jersey prior to filing it is the first step you should take when you seek to change your child’s name. It avoids unnecessary delay and expenses. Contact a Hackensack, New Jersey Name Change Lawyer today to schedule a consultation. The Giro Law Firm provides legal services in a variety of divorce and family law matters including contested divorces, parental rights, adoptions, and civil union agreements.


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