Legally changing your name, or the name of your child, can provide many practical benefits, and people seek to change their names for several reasons. The state of Missouri allows adults and minors to change their names by filing a joint petition with the proper court, as long as the change is acceptable and does not harm the interests of anyone involved, such as creditors. Here are six reasons why you may want to consider changing your name or the name of your child:

  1. Protection. If you and your child are in a situation involving domestic violence, changing your name can provide added protection from your aggressor.
  2. Adoption. The adoption process usually involves changing the child’s name to the new family’s name, and this option is available for all types of adoptions. Whether you are seeking a domestic adoption through a private or independent agency, or an international adoption, legally changing your new child’s name can increase the sense of closeness within the family.
  3. Marriage. When a couple marries, they often want to change their children’s surnames to match the new family name. This is may be true regardless of whether the person being married is the child’s father. In cases involving marriage, legally changing both the spouse’s name and the minor’s name can increase the sense of unity with the new family.
  4. Divorce. Divorce is also a situation where the separating parents seek name changes not only for themselves. For example, when a person divorces, they may choose to restore a prior name or maiden name.
  5. Paternity. If a child is given the mother’s surname at birth, some people request a change of the child’s name to the father’s surname as part of a paternity action.
  6. Child’s choice. If a minor child wishes to seek a name change, Missouri requires that the child’s next friend or guardian file the petition on their behalf. A next friend is a person appointed by the court to act on the child’s behalf, and is usually the child’s physical custodian. A signed form of written consent must also be provided by each known parent in order for the court to accept the name change. Once a child is no longer a minor, however, no parental consent is necessary.

Seeking a legal name change is a significant decision that can provide many benefits. Whether you want to create family unity, increase your safety and protection, or simply get a different or easier name for you or your child, filing the necessary paperwork with the court can lead to the desired outcome. At Coulter Lambson, our St. Louis County family law attorneys can discuss your options and help you decide if a name change is beneficial for you. We have the experience necessary to navigate the family court systems as you seek a legal name change.

Contact Coulter Lambson today for more information.