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Can I change my child’s last name?

After your divorce, you may have been eager to return to your maiden name, in spite of the necessary paperwork the change required. Having a different last name from your child may be a point of irritation, or even an inconvenience. According to the Georgia General Assembly, you may have the right and the ability to share your own name with your child after your divorce. But, if he or she is under the age of 18 and the other parent is still living, there are steps that must be taken in addition to those required for an adult.

The easiest way to make the change for a minor child is to get the other parent’s written consent. However, if this is not forthcoming, it does not necessarily mean you cannot reach your goal. A copy of your petition to the court for the name change must be served to the other parent. In Georgia, this must be done in person, but if the child’s father lives in another state, he must still be served with the petition. In this case, it may be sent by statutory overnight delivery or by certified mail. When you do not know where the father is, you may have the petition published according to the instructions provided by law.

If your child’s other parent has failed to provide any support for at least five years, you do not have to wait for his written consent to the name change, although notification is still required. However, if you feel that you or your child may be in danger if the new name is published in your petition, the court may rule that it is not required. Depending on your situation, the timeline for the process may vary, and other exceptions may apply, so this information should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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