Circumstances may arise that make you wonder if you could change your minor child’s name from the name given on the birth certificate. In Tennessee, you may file a Petition with the court seeking to change the name of a minor child. Tennessee Code Annotated Sections 16-10-107 and 29-8-101 provides that circuit and chancery courts have concurrent jurisdiction to change or alter names.
The procedure to change a child’s name depends on the circumstances at the time of the child’s birth. If the parents were married at the time of the child’s birth, both parents may agree to change the child’s name for one year following the birth. However, there are some parameters regarding the child’s last name which can only be changed to the mother’s last name, mother’s maiden name, the father’s last name or any combination of these. See Tennessee Code Annotated Section 68-3-305.
If the parents are unmarried at the time of birth, the birth mother has the sole right to choose the child’s first and middle name. The child’s last name must be the same as the mother or the mother’s maiden name or they may be combined. If the father acknowledges paternity, the mother may give the child the father’s surname. The biological father may petition the court to change the child’s surname to his if he has acknowledged paternity and the court would have to find that it is in the child’s best interest to change the name.
To initiate a name change, the moving party or Petitioner, must file a petition and pay the filing fee in the county where the minor child resides and must provide verifying information such as the social security card, birth certificate, and photo IDs for the petitioner and the birth certificate for the minor child. If only one parent is petitioning for the name change, the other parent must either consent or be served with the petition. If both parents agree, then the matter will be uncontested and a hearing will be scheduled to enter the order. If the other parent does not agree and contests the name change, then the matter will be contested and a hearing on evidence will have to be held to determine if the name change will be granted.
What if you do not know the location of the other parent? If you cannot locate the other parent, you will be required to notify by publication. To serve notice by publication, you have to publish a legal notice in a newspaper in general circulation in the area of the parent’s last known address for a required number of weeks. Upon completion of the publication, the other parent will be deemed noticed.
A transgender or nonbinary person may want to change their name to better reflect how they see themselves. If the person is an adult, then they do not need the permission of anyone and can file to change their name as long as they meet the standard requirements of not changing the name for a fraudulent purpose such as avoiding debts or to hide a criminal conviction and making the request in good faith. If the transgender or nonbinary person is a minor, then the parents could petition the court to change their name. If the parents did not agree, then the matter will be contested and a hearing on evidence will have to be held to determine if the name change will be granted. The court will conduct a hearing to determine if it is in the child’s best interest to change their name.
If the name change request is granted, then an order is issued to require a new birth certificate to be issued with the new name and you will also have to submit the order to change other important documents, such as the child’s social security records.
If you find that you need legal help to change your name or would like to schedule a consultation, visit www.heldlawfirm.com or call 865-637-6550.