Name Change

questions & answers

Question: I have a 10 yr old son. His father's name isn't on birth certificate. He has not helped at all. I started to take him for child support but that fell through. I really don't want him involved in his life. He shows no concerns of my son's welfare. My question is can I change my son's last name (his father's)to mine without going through the courts in establishing him being his father? We were never married. His last contact with him was over 4 yrs ago. There is nothing that's been done through the courts. I also want my fiance to be able to adopt him (they want that too)

Answer: A name change must always go through the courts. As far as a father's ability to prevent it, there are a few things to consider.

First, is there a legally acknowledged father? In Arizona, a man is considered to be the legal father under if:
1. paternity has been established in court,
2. he was married to the mother within 10 months prior to the birth,
3. his name is on the birth certificate,
4. paternity has been established via DNA testing, or
5. a notarized or witnessed statement is signed by both parents acknowledging paternity.
(A.R.S. 25-812, 814)

Unless someone meets at least one of those criteria, they are not a "legal parent" (A.R.S. 25-401). If there is no legal father, the mother has complete legal decision-making authority and can change the child's name and begin adoption proceedings on her own.

If there is a legal father, the child's name can still be changed by the parent with legal decision-making authority.  However, before an adoption could take place, the parental rights would have to be voluntarily waived by the father or severed by order of the court.

QUESTIONS

  • I have a 10 yr old son. His father's name isn't on birth certificate. He has not helped at all. I started to take him for child support but that fell through. I really don't want him involved in his life. He shows no concerns of my son's welfare. My question is can I change my son's last name (his father's)to mine without going through the courts in establishing him being his father? We were never married. His last contact with him was over 4 yrs ago. There is nothing that's been done through the courts. I also want my fiance to be able to adopt him (they want that too)

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