People have many reasons for wishing to change the name of their son or daughter. Particularly when a child’s parents are separated or divorced, there may many valid reasons for requesting a change. In New Jersey, there is some formality to the name change process. Although most requests are granted (provided they are made in good faith) when both parents consent to the name change, the situation is more difficult when one of the parents objects. My firm has successfully handled many name change requests and stands ready to assist should you desire the assistance of an attorney. Below, however, I will discuss a few of the steps involved in the process.
The standard judges must use when determining whether to grant a name change for a minor is whether the change in name is in the child’s best interests.
There are two (2) primary methods that individuals utilize in seeking a name change for the minor: 1) filing by complaint and 2) filing by motion.
Filing by Complaint
A formal complaint is often utilized when there is no family division docket number. The complaint shall include a sworn affidavit and state certain required information about the child. For example, the complaint will verify the name is not being changed to defraud anyone/creditors, or to commit a crime/obstruct prosecution, or to commit a crime or fraud.
The complaint shall include a notice requesting a hearing date. Service must be made upon the non-party parent. The cost of the Complaint is $200.00. There is also a publication requirement in such cases.
Filing by Motion
In some instances, a court may allow a request to be made by Motion. This will currently cost $30.00 (plus an additional $5.00 for a gold-sealed copy of the Order). Much of the language and procedures are the same when filing by Motion.
Of course, once the name change has been granted, there is still some work to be done by you with regards to advising certain bureaus and records of the change in name.