28 answers

Marrying in June and Children What to Change Their Name Too...

I have two children, 6 and 9, who want to have their name changed too when I get married in June. They haven't seen their father in over two years. He still pays child support, but never comes around. When I mean never comes around I mean he doesn't call, doesn't visit, no birthday cards/presents, no letters-NOTHING! It's like he fell off the face of the earth, but still lives five minutes away. He doesn't pay interest in his children what-so-ever...all FOUR of them (only the first two are mine). My fiance, of whom I have been with for over five years, is very involved with my children. He takes them to baseball practices/games, picks them up from school, attends school activites, helps with homework, practices baseball with my oldest, goes to my daughters recitals, brings them to the park, wrestles with them, helps with discipline, goes out to dinner, to the movies, Chuck E. Cheese, parties-I could go on forever. He does everything a father should do, and acts as if they are his very own. The children have asked to take his name too, but I don't know how all this works. I don't know mine or my children's rights in this and if I would be able to. I also don't have the knowledge of what the father's rights are. Nor do I even know where to begin. I never thought in a million years that I would be even thinking this never mind doing it. My children even want my fiance to adopt them. Right now I don't see or have to talk to him. There was always an arguement and threats whenever I had to deal with him, so I am not looking forward to throwing this at him. Is this worth doing? Has anyone been through this??? Any and all advice will be appreciated.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers


I don't have any advice for you, but I am in the same situation. I am getting married in July and my two want to change there name, too! I will be watching what people have to say so I can learn from this. Thank you for posting this question.

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Hi C.......first of all I want to say how very sorry I am that your children are going through this emotional turmoil in their young lives.
I think even before you pursue this emotionally you have to ask your former husband if he would agree to your request. In Mass. that is the first step to make.
I would let him know up front " his " children have requested this.
Are you prepared for a battle ??? I don't know if you'll have one but being prepared is always good.
If you still plan on being married in less than two months I doubt very much it will be settled by then.

Blessings to you and your upcoming marriage. P.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi C.!
Sounds to me like your ex would jump at the chance to terminate his parental rights and have your fiance adopt the children. I say go for it! If that doesn't go over with the ex you could always have the children hyphenate their last names with his and your new one. Your wedding ceremony can be a "family" ceremony where your fiance actually marries you and the children as a family. I think it's wonderful that your fiance is so involved with them and they want him to be a part of them.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi C.,

The same thing happened to me when I married in 2002. I checked out the laws. First, the children have to live or been living with your fiance for at least two years. We didn't live together so we had to wait, if you have been then it's a non issue. You have to file a petition for adoption with the probate court in your county and have him served. You know where he lives, so you pay a constable or the sheriff's dept. He then has a right (so many days or weeks) to respond. If he contests it, it will be a battle. If he doesn't or doesn't show up, at the hearing the judge will talk to the children. If allowed, child support will be terminated as well as parental rights. Just be prepared that if he fights you, and has been paying support, they probably won't let your new husband adopt. Nothing stopping them from calling him dad and thinking of him as one. And, because my sister in law did it, they can at 18 petiton the court themselves and it will go through.

T. M. Wambolt, Ashby, Ma

1 mom found this helpful

This is a tough issue & I know several people who were faced with similar situations...in order to legally change the children's last name, the biological father has to terminate his parental rights. That means he would not be obligated to pay child support anymore. If he does that, your fiance could adopt them & have their name changed. Most bio fathers won't terminate their rights (not sure why) so I would look into possible hyphenating their last name to include the new married name...not sure if this is possible but I would check with social security and/ or family court. Hope this helps!

First you need to get a lawyer. Your ex would have to agree in court to give up his rights to these children ( and you give up the child support) and your fiance would have to adopt them. It's a long process and when it comes to men, their egos get involved and there is pride there, but maybe he will agree to it so he won't have to keep paying child support.
Sounds like you have a nice family... best of luck with your wedding and your "ever after"!

How wonderful you are marrying such a terrific man!
Im pretty sure you need the kids biological dad to sign off on something. I would call your city hall or your lawyer and find out the paperwork and everything necessary.
Good Luck!

Your post doesn't say what state you are in, but I think most states have laws regarding name changes for kids and adoptions. You should consult an attorney, or call the child support office in your state to find out what those rules are. For instance, I believe a legal notice would have to be published in the local paper, and papers sent to the father notifying him of the intended name change. He would have the right to oppose that change. Also, I believe the absentee father would have to relinqish all parental rights, including the obligation of child support before your new husband could legally adopt them. Most absentee fathers, even the ones who live 5 minutes away and can't be bothered with their kids all of a sudden become very involved when they are threatened with losing any and all involvement with their children. It might "make them look bad" if they gave up their parental rights. Yeah, right! Check it out with the courts to see what needs to be done. Hope this helps. And congratulations on your upcoming marriage!

Hi, My sister is dealing with this now so i know alittle that may or may not help. First and for most the biological father has to give up his parental rights. Meaning he has to give up rights as a dad to your children. Once he does that then ur new hubby can patition the court of his intent to adopt your children. Your kids bio. dad will have no rights meaning he will not have to pay you child support and all major decisions about your kids are yours and your new hubby responsibility. Even if he is not involved in their lives he still has to give up his rights or you will have to go to court and petition the court that his rights be derminated and that is a whole different ball of wax. You may want to contact a lawyer and get some advice and check with the court system in your area so to how they handle these cases. Good luck.

My brother and his wife had a similar issue. When he started dating his wife, she had a 6 month old daughter. The biological father was never in the picture. He was sporadic with child support. My brother married his wife when the baby(my niece) was 18 months old. She has never known another father.

My SIL was afraid that if they tried to push for an adoption the father would come back into the picture (just for spite). Also, they wanted her to share the same last name as her little brother and her parents. (later they had 3 additional kids, too).

So, when she was 5 or 6, they were told that they could legally change my niece's last name if they posted a notice in several newspapers or something along those lines (not sure how the laws are in different states)(we are in Massachusetts). This would not require them contacting the biological father or getting his approval. And he was unlikely to read the legal notices in newspapers. So, they did that--and then were able to change her last name.

She is now 16 years old. The only drawback is that my brother is not her legal father. That could have been a problem if something had happened to his wife (or with his estate going to her if anything had happened to him and his wife).

Good luck! It might be worth consulting a lawyer about this!

Your finace cannot adopt your children unless their father's parental rights are legally terminated. Even though he shows no interest in the children he does pay child support so you can't exactly claim abandonment. You may, however, want to remind him that if your finace adopts them he will no longer have to pay child support. I've seen that strategy work. In any case you need to consult an attorney. If their father refuses to cooperate, just remember one thing: Anybody can be a father. It takes someone special to be a daddy. Your children know who their daddy is, and when they're of legal age he can adopt them WITHOUT their biological father's consent.

this is so hard, but he will have to ok the adoption of course. Your best bet is to talk to the courts and get as much info as you can.

I had a lot of friends growing up who just assumed the new name....when they applied for driver's license and passports they had to use their old "legal" name, but they got through school using their assumed name.....I'd ask the school what sort of documentation they need to change a name. It may be just a phone call.

Also, my step daughter had her name changed (she had a hyphenated last name and her dad wanted his name to be the one used). That involved a trip by both parents to Probate where they made a simple name change.
Your children are very lucky to have such a great "Dad". I grew up with my step father as my dad as well, and I wish that I had thought to take his name, so many years ago!

I'm preparing to go through the same thing with my child. Your ex sounds a lot like mine. My cousin's daughter went through this too...same type of father. She ended up hyphenating her name and using her mom's new name in school, but her "legal" name on everything else until she was 18 because her "father" wouldn't let her change her name. Yes, they have a say. I'm guessing that's what my son will have to do until he's old enough to do it on his own. I would check with a lawyer or judge before you even bother asking the "father"...it's not worth the argument if you already know the answer.

Good luck!

Hi C.
This is not as easy as you think, the biological father needs to be willing to terminate his parental rights and give permission for your children to change their name. Many parents do not go through this process, they just go ahead and start calling them by the new last name without doing all of the necessary paperwork. I work at a public school and see this all the time. I encourage you to do it right, because when the children get older it will be harder for them. For example, we have a student graduating this year and he has been going by his mother's maiden name since he was 5, but his legal name is his father's last name. Mom never went through the necessary steps to change his name legally and now his diploma and driver's license will have his legal name on it, not the name he has known for years. This is really confusing to him! You may want to try and convince their father by telling him he would no longer have to pay support to them if he gives up his parental rights. That may close the deal for him. If you and your kids really want this, do not take the easy way out!


I don't have any advice for you, but I am in the same situation. I am getting married in July and my two want to change there name, too! I will be watching what people have to say so I can learn from this. Thank you for posting this question.

Your Ex will have to give up his parental rights so they can change their name. If he is still paying child support and wants his parental rights then I don't think you legally can. You should talk to a lawyer who practices Family Law.

I went throught that with my daugther when I got married to my husband. My ex has been in and out and does pay child support on and off. It was a part of my life at one time and as much as I want to erase that I can't what's done is done.

This is how I look at it, they are too young to understand but it's a last name. Someday maybe their dad will come around again, he might have something going on in his life that is keeping him away from the children. I am not defending him but they are part of his DNA and that will never change. By changing their last name it might be upsetting to them later in life. I would honestly keep things the way they are. I always want my daughter to know where she came from even though she doesn't see her other side of the family too often (all live about 2 miles from me) but I want her to keep that tie with her heritage and family line.

Kids at the age they are don't understand that it's not the last name that makes a family it's the people in the family that make it! Although you are upset with him you need to step outside the emotional relm and think about what will be best for their future emotionally and financially.

Good Luck

I can totally relate and understand your situation. I did some reaseach of my own is reguards to what it would take to change my childs name. What I did learn was that I would need permission from his father to do so (in my case that would never happen). This website has the law for childrens name change in CT http://www.jud.ct.gov/LawLib/Notebooks/Pathfinders/Namesa...

I believe it also has a link to the form you would need to fill out as well. Now I never went as far as contacting a family lawyer to explain everything either. You might want to do that. I know that a lot of lawyers will give a free consultation and that might be all you need to get an understaning of what you need to do.
I hope this helps a little.. Good luck and Congrats btw

Hi C. ...
Basically, you need a lawyer. From what little I know, in order for the kids to be adopted by your new husband, the biological father has to give up his parental rights ... this is done in court. When you do this, he's not responsible for child support payments anymore either.
If your children truly don't want any more to do with their biological father, I would engage a lawyer and begin the process.
You'd have to explain this to the kids, too ... that, even though the man isn't around, his name is connected to them and that a judge has to tell you it's okay for them to change their name. They may tell you they want to tell the judge themselves. Then I would tell them that you're going to talk to somebody who helps people talk to judges (a lawyer) and, that person will know whether it's okay or a good idea for them to talk to the judge, too.
Take care,

I had to change my son's name when my husband and I got married. We weren't married when he was born, but when we got married we changed his last name to just my husbands. Since we did it before he was a year, it was an easier process, but I did find out what it entails to do it over a year.
Call down to the county courthouse office, they take care of name changes. Tell them what you want to do, mainly that the father is out of the picture, because his signature might be needed in order to change their names if his name in on the birth certificate. It will run about $130/name (at least that's what it was a few years ago, you need their current birth certificates, the $95 charge for the name change, then getting their new birth certificate).
As far as adoption, I don't know. I would call DHHS or the lawyer that you used when you set up the child support/custody arrangement and ask them. I would think that their biological father would have to give up his rights (but then he would be obligated to pay child support anymore, you might be able to use that as a barginning chip to get him to do it) for your fiancee to adopt them.
Make sure that the kids are REALLY sure about it. I have a friend with a 9 y/o and a 5 y/o. The 5 y/o is with her husband, but he's been around since the 9 y/o was 3 months old, but he never adopted her. The 9 y/o still goes and sees her father and such though, so the situation is different. Make sure it's what the kids want and let them know that it's is absolutly fine if they don't.

I am a child of a similar situation. My mom and dad divorced when I was less than 2 years old. My step dad married my mom when I was 4, they had been dating since I was 2. I feel so blessed having 2 dads, even though only 1 (my step dad), may have done all of the daddy things. I biological father wasn't that involved in my life when I was younger, but he did pay child support. He lived in California so i didn't see him that often. My parents were very young when I was born and I think that didn't help the situation. My step dad wanted to adopt me, but my Bio-dad refused to terminate his rights. Now that I am married I have my husbands name any way....and maybe when I was younger it was hard having a different last name than my mom, but it doesn't really matter to me now. My father is still my father....and now that I am older and have a daughter myself, he is a lot more active in our lives and I love having so many people to care about me and my daughter. My step dad will always be my daddy. We have a special relationship that no piece of paper can define. Even now that my mom and step dad are divorced, we exist like there is no difference. He's my dad and will always be my dad. I think your kids will grow to understand what that means.

I think a 9 year old and especially a 6 year would know the or actually even understand the changing the name thing. I do think he has to give permission for that to be done. That means no more support either. You and your future husband need to sit and talk about this, that is a very big discission. Hope it all works out.

Hi C.,
So as much as you wouldn't want to do this, you would have to contact him in some way for the name change of your children, he would have to sign off on it in someway. I wouls suggest setting up a consult (getting a free one if possible) with a lawyer to discuss the situation. Where he is still paying child support, he is still putting something towards the children. I would check out your options and search the internet for some "law" advice on this situation as well. Sometimes you get lucky and find just the right article on these types of situations. It seems to me that he doesn't want anything to do with the kids and that your soon to be husband is wonderful and that is great for both you and your children. However the downside is, that once your ex finds out what is going on, he just may want to "suddenly" be invovled...so that is the catch 22 part about it. Not to say that your children shouldn't see their biological fahter, but it seems as though he hasn't wanted any involvement with them and this may change him around which could thoroughly mess with your kids. Go the lawyer route to find out everyone's rights all around and I wish nothing but the best for you all. Also, Congrats on your soon to be marriage!

I would definitely do it. Your fiance is, for all intents and purposes, the only father they'll remember. Contact your local Probate Court and ask the procedure for changing the names of minors. You'll probably have to serve notice on the father that you're doing this. He'll most likely ignore it, and you can go ahead. Good luck!

When my mother remarried my stepfather wanted to adopt us, however, our biological father was very much involved in our lives. My father would have had to give up his rights to my brother and I, and my mother would have had to give up all child support. While your ex may not mind this since he pays no interest in the children and may want to get out of the child support, it may not be in the best interest of your family long term.

For my Mom and stepdad they got married at a courthouse without my brother and I in attendance, and then about a year later we had a ceremony at church. During that ceremony my Mom and stepdad renewed their commitments to each other and they gave my brother and I special rings to signify that we were coming together as a family. It added something special to the ceremony, and I still have my ring today.

As it turned out in our family the best decision was for my brother and I to keep our father's name. My stepfather turned out to be a very evil man. He was responsible for my mother's death when I was 13. Since my father had not given up his rights to us we instantly went into his custody. Had he given up his rights to us then we would have bounced around foster care and I'm not sure how we would have turned out. It also made a big difference that my Dad stayed involved in our lives, so obviously he did not want to give up his rights to us.

Every family is vastly different. For your family perhaps it would be best if your fiance adopted the children. If you do better without your ex in your life and financially you don't need the child support money, then start looking into the options further. Your ex will have to give up his rights to his children before your fiance can adopt them. In some situations you can also go to court and fight for his rights to be revoked. It all comes down to what is best for your family. In some cases you may be able to legally change the children's names so that they are "first name, middle name, current last name, new last name". I'm not sure if you would need your ex's permission for that or not.

I find it wonderful that your fiance is so involved in your children's lives and that your children adore him so much. That is a huge blessing. Having your children take on his name could really be helpful to them emotionally, and it could be a very good thing for your family. Keep in mind though that if it doesn't work out, that regardless of last name you are all a united family.

Try looking into more of the details (I suggest finding a good lawyer to consult), and after getting all the details together find out what is best for your family. If your ex won't give up his rights, perhaps its not the best course of action (who wants to spend that much time in court?).

It comes down to going with what works best for you, your fiance and your children. The options have to be weighed before you can come to that conclusion.

Best wishes! Congrats on the upcomming wedding.

I believe you would need permission for their father for your soon to be husband to adopt them. Then they could take his name. That would mean their father would have no rights (if he agreed) and it would also mean he would no longer have to pay child support. Good luck and Congratulations!!!

Hi C.,

According to Rhode Island statutes:

"§ 15-7-4 Petition to adopt – Court having jurisdiction. – (a) Any person residing in Rhode Island may petition the family court for leave to adopt as his or her child any person younger than him or herself and under eighteen (18) years of age, and, if desired, for a change of the child's name, but the prayer of the petition by a person having a husband or wife shall not be granted unless the husband or wife joins in the petition; provided, that upon good cause shown and a showing that the granting of the petition for adoption would be in the best interests of the minor child, the prayer of the petition may be granted although the spouse of the petitioner is not a party to the petition.>

"§ 15-7-7 Termination of Parental Rights...4) The parent [in this case, your ex] has abandoned or deserted the child. A lack of communication or contact with the child for at least a six (6) month period shall constitute prima facie evidence of abandonment or desertion. In the event that parents of an infant have had no contact or communication with the infant for a period of six (6) months the department shall file a petition pursuant to this section and the family court shall conduct expedited hearings on the petition.

(b) In the event that the petition is filed pursuant to subdivisions (a)(1), (a)(2)(i), (a)(2)(iii), or (a)(2)(vii) of this section, the court shall find as a fact that, prior to the granting of the petition, such parental conduct or conditions must have occurred or existed notwithstanding the reasonable efforts which shall be made by the agency prior to the filing of the petition to encourage and strengthen the parental relationship so that the child can safely return to the family. In the event that a petition is filed pursuant to subdivisions (a)(2)(ii), (a)(2)(iv), (a)(2)(v), (a)(2)(vi) or (a)(4) of this section, the department has no obligation to engage in reasonable efforts to preserve and reunify a family."

source: http://www.childadoptionlaws.com/child_adoption_laws/adop...

I must say it's sad that as young as your children are, they're already asking for adoption...that shows a real lack of a loving relationship with their father. I hope for their sake, as well as their siblings' sake, they still see his other two children, even though they don't see him? I know it may be difficult for you to facilitate that relationship, but it would be better for all the children if yours can still maintain a relationship with their other brothers/sisters. I would be happy to talk more with you about that in private, as I do have experience with that aspect of this whole situation.

Normally adoptions and things of this nature get handled through probate court (at least in CT, where I live); I suggest you consult a lawyer ASAP. He/she can give you the proper guidance that you need to move forward with the adoption and name change.

You can contact your state's Office of the Child Advocate here: http://www.child-advocate.ri.gov/index.php
They should be able to give you a direct link to more resources available for help with your situation.

One more caution: Don't be surprised if this jolts your ex back to reality. He may not realize what he's got 'til it's gone, so to speak; he may try to fight you at every turn to "keep" his children, even if he hasn't been acting like their dad for years.

Good luck with all this and congratulations on your upcoming nuptuals! Send me a message if you'd like to talk privately also; as a stepmom myself I have some insight.


I would talk to a family lawyer if their father gives up his rights and allows your fiance to adopt them that would probably affect child support. It seems like he doesn't want anything to do with the kids and is only paying child support because he has to pay. I know some people have put off getting remarried just to make the "x" pay.

Congratulations C., sounds like you've found a great guy! AS far as the name change thing, i would first consult with a lawyer BEFORE you talk with your childrens father. Its too bad he doesnt bother with them, even though he still sends support. Since your fiancee is the only "dad" they know & spends quality time with them, i dont blame them or you for wanting to take his name. Good luck with everything!

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