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Do you need permission to change your child’s last name?

It is common for many mothers in Kentucky and elsewhere to have a different last name from their children after a divorce. Some decide to keep their married surnames, but others revert to their maiden names. If you set aside your married name after your divorce, it might upset you that your children still have their father’s last name. It could be a bad reminder of an unhappy marriage. Consequently, you might consider changing their last name to your maiden name. Is it possible to do this if your spouse is no longer in the picture?

According to the Commonwealth of Kentucky Court of Justice, you would need to provide a valid reason for the requested name change, as well as permission from your ex-spouse. However, hope is not necessarily lost if you are unable to get permission or to locate your ex. You would need to make reasonable efforts to notify the children’s other parent of the desired name change. After this, you would need to prove to the court that you have a good reason for the request.

A valid reason would generally need to be stronger than the name being a reminder of your ex. For example, if the children’s other parent does not have a desire to be a part of his children’s lives, this may be a reason for them to carry on your name instead. It may be a particularly good reason if the last name causes significant pain for the children. Their parent might have been abusive, and bearing this name could be a painful reminder of the abuse.

Additionally, you would not be allowed to change a name if doing so would enable you to escape criminal prosecution or dodge a legal obligation, such as paying alimony. The information in this post is intended to be helpful, but should not replace the advice of an attorney.

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