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How to Change Last Name of Child Born Out of Wedlock


A child who is born out of wedlock is a child who was born when his parents were not married.  When a child is born to an unmarried couple, the mother determines if the father’s name will be on the birth certificate and what the child’s name will be.  A child born out of wedlock is usually given the mother’s last name, particularly if paternity has not been established.

There are several reasons to change a child’s last name, and there are different methods for handling each situation.  An experienced family law attorney can help guide you through your options and handle the paperwork and filing of sometimes complicated legal work.

Only a few people have standing to change a minor child’s last name.  They are the parents named on the birth record; the legal guardian of the child named on the birth record; or a legal, licensed representative of any of these individuals.  If the biological father is not listed, then he has no standing to change the child’s last name.

In order to change a child’s last name from the mother’s last name to the biological father’s last name, the parents may voluntarily establish paternity.  To do so, the mother and father sign an Affidavit of Parentage, which is then filed with the Michigan Department of Community Health, Vital Records Division.  Once paternity has been established and the parents want the child’s last name to be the same as the father’s last name, a form must be filled out with the Department of Community Health.  However, it should be noted that establishing paternity does not automatically mean that the child’s last name will be changed.  The mother must agree to the name change; if she does not, the child’s last name remains the mother’s last name.

If paternity is established through a court proceeding, the parents will have an opportunity to change the child’s last name.  The court will ask the parties whether they wish to change the child's last name. If the mother and father wish to change the child’s last name, an amended birth certificate will be issued reflecting the child’s new last name.

If the couple marries and the father wants to adopt the child, the court will ask what name the parents want the child to have.  The child’s last name may be changed to the adoptive father’s last name.  A new birth record will be issued with the new last name.

Changing a child’s name can be tricky.  If you are interested in changing your child’s last name, contact the Law Office of Patrick L. Chatterton today.  We can assess your situation and determine the best method to solve your problem.


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