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Instructions & Forms for Child Name Change - One parent filing - Other parent dead or rights terminated

These instructions explain the steps to change a child’s name if you are the child’s parent and:

  • the other parent is dead OR the other parent’s parental rights were terminated by a court and
  • no other person has a court ordered relationship with the child.

You can also use these instructions and forms if you are the child’s nonparent sole managing conservator or legal guardian and:

  • both parents are either 1) dead or 2) had their parental rights terminated by a court and
  • no other person has a court ordered relationship with the child.

To expand out each step with more information and forms, just click on the step.

 

Important: These instructions provide general information and are not a substitute for the advice and help of a lawyer.

 

You can print these instructions to use as a checklist. - Click here to PRINT Instructions 

Or, to print both the instructions and forms click here.

 

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Step 1: Fill out the Petition and other starting court forms.

Fill out these forms:

This form asks a judge to change a child’s name. You must sign this form under penalty of perjury. This means you could be charged with a crime if you lie on this form.

Print your answers using blue or black ink. Do not leave blanks. 

Who is the petitioner?
You are the petitioner – the person asking the court to change the child’s name. Note: You MUST be a parent or nonparent managing conservator or legal guardian to ask for a child’s name to be changed.

Who must be listed as a respondent in the Petition to Change the Name of a Child?
If you are the child’s parent, you must list the other parent as a respondent. If you are a non-parent managing conservator or legal guardian of the child, you must list both parents as respondents.

Important: Do no use these instructions if anyone else has a court ordered relationship with the child.

What if a parent is dead?
If a parent is dead, you will check the box that says the parent is deceased and attach a copy of the parent’s death certificate. (Keep the original death certificate. You will need it when you go to court.)

What if a parent’s parental rights were terminated?
If a parent’s parental rights were terminated, check the box that says the parent’s parental rights were terminated and attach a copy of a certified copy of the court order that terminated the parent’s rights. (Note: Keep the actual certified copy of the court order. You will need it when you go to court.)

What if I don’t know the identity of the other parent?  
Do NOT use these instructions if you don’t know the identity of a parent. Use these instructions instead: Instructions & Forms for Child Name Change - One parent filing - Other parent will be served. You must have the “Unknown Father” served by publication.

What if I can’t find the other parent? 
Do NOT use these instructions if you can’t find a parent. Use these instructions instead: Instructions & Forms for Child Name Change - One parent filing - Other parent will be served. If you can’t find a parent, you must have the parent served by publication.

You will ask the judge to sign this form to change the child’s name. Fill out all blanks except: 1) the date of judgment, 2) the judge’s signature and 3) the judge’s name.

You must also sign this form. 

Fill out this additional form if the child is 10 years old or older:

This form must be signed by the child if the child is 10 years old or older. It tells the judge that the child wants his or her name to be changed. Note: If the child is 10 years old or older and does not want a name change, you can’t change his or her name.

Fill out this additional form if you cannot afford to pay the filing fee for your case. Call the clerk’s office in the county where the child lives to learn the filing fee for your case.

TIP: It’s a good idea to have a lawyer review your forms after you fill them out. You can hire a lawyer just to review your forms. This is called “limited scope representation.” Use our Legal Help Finder tool to search for legal help in your area. Or, if your income is low, you may be able to have your completed forms reviewed at a free legal clinic. Use our Legal Clinic Calendar tool to search for a free legal clinic in your area.

Step 2: Make copies.

Make one copy of the following forms:

  • your completed Petition to Change the Name of a Child, and
  • your Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs (if you cannot afford the filing fee), and
  • the child’s completed Child’s Consent to Name Change (if the child is 10 or older).

You do not need copies of the Civil Case Information Sheet form, the Information on Suit Affecting the Family Relationship form, or the Order Changing the Name of a Child form.

Step 3: File (turn in) your Petition and other starting forms.

File (turn in) your completed forms at the district clerk’s office in the county where your child lives.

At the clerk’s office:

  • Turn in your completed court forms (and copies), except the Order Changing the Name of a Child form.
  • Pay the filing fee or file your completed Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs if you cannot afford the fee.
  • The clerk will write your “Cause Number” and “Court Number” at the top of the first page of your Petition to Change the Name of a Child and other forms. (Write these numbers at the top of your Order Changing the Name of a Child form.)
  • The clerk will “file-stamp” your copies with the date and time.
  • Ask the clerk if there are local rules or procedures you need to know about for your case.
  • Ask the clerk when you can present your proposed Order Changing the Name of a Child to a judge. You may be able to present your proposed order to a judge that day. Or you may have to come back another day.
Step 4: Go to court to finish your case.

Go to court to finish your case. Read the article TIPS for the Courtroom for more information about going to Court.

When you get to the courtroom, tell the judge’s clerk you are there and give the clerk the following documents:

  • your proposed Order Changing the Name of a Child, and
  • the file-stamped copy of your Petition to Change the Name of a Child, and
  • the file-stamped copy of the Child’s Consent to Name Change (if applicable), and
  • if a parent is dead, the parent’s death certificate, and
  • if a parent’s parental rights were terminated, your certified copy of the court order terminating the parent’s rights, and
  • if you are not the child’s parent, a copy of the court order naming you as the child’s managing conservator or legal guardian.

Sit down until the judge calls your case.

When the judge calls your case, walk to the front of the courtroom and stand in front of the judge’s bench. The judge will have you raise your right hand and swear to tell the truth. Tell the judge who you are and whether you are the child’s parent or the child’s nonparent managing conservator or legal guardian. Tell the judge you are asking that the child’s name be changed. Be prepared to quickly tell the judge why you think changing the child’s name is in the child’s best interest.

The judge will listen to what you say and review your forms. If everything is in order and the judge agrees that changing the child’s name would be in the child’s best interest, the judge will sign your Order Changing the Name of a Child.

Step 5: File the signed Order with the clerk.

After the judge signs your Order Changing the Name of a Child, go back to the clerk’s office.

  • File (turn in) the signed Order Changing the Name of a Child. Your case is NOT final until you do so.
  • Get several certified copies of the Order from the clerk. You must pay a small fee for each certified copy. You will need certified copies of the Order to change the child’s name on the child’s social security card, birth certificate, passport, school records, etc. Each agency will want a certified copy of the Order to keep. You will also want a certified copy of the Order for your records.
  • File the completed Information on Suit Affecting the Family Relationship form.
Step 6: After your case is finished.

You are responsible for notifying the appropriate agencies of the child’s new name.

  • To change the child’s social security card, contact your local social security office.
  • To change your child’s Texas birth certificate, contact the Texas Department of State Health Services, Vital Statistics Unit. Read about birth certificate amendments and get the application here. If your child was born in another state, contact the vital statistics office in that state.

  • To change the child’s passport, contact your local passport office.
  • To change the child’s school records, take a certified copy of the Order to the child’s school.