Can I Change My Child's Name After Divorce?

In the wake of a divorce, particularly if your ex-partner was abusive or controlling, every reminder of your ex-spouse can be painful. Many people who took their spouse’s name at marriage have strong feelings about returning to a maiden name or previous name once the courts finalize the divorce. Though the divorce process provides avenues for changing your name, what options do you have if your children still have the last name of your ex-partner?

You want to consider carefully whether you want to pursue changing your child’s name after divorce. Simple acts like registering your children for school, buying a plane ticket or other items that require you to list your child’s full legal name can feel like a stab in the heart after a divorce. And even with the rise of complex blended families, sharing a last name with your child still remains the most common default. If you changed your name back to a previous name, you may want your children to have that name as well.

Making the right choice

On the other hand, your ex-partner’s last name may have special significance to your children. It may also be a reminder of other family members from your ex-partner’s family with whom you and your children still have a good relationship.

You know your family best. If a name change is the most appropriate choice for you and your children, it is possible to request that in Florida. The process involves:

  1. Filing a petition with the family law court
  2. Passing a background check
  3. Obtaining the other parent’s consent

If the other parent does not consent, you can take your case to a family court hearing. Significant factors include:

  • How long the children have used the ex-partner’s name
  • The ex-partner’s involvement with the children
  • The bonding process of your new family unit

A lawyer can help you present your case to the judge, showing that it is in the best interest of the child to approve the name change.