18 answers

What Are the Steps to Take to Change My Children's Last Names to My Husband's?

My husband and I have been married for almost 5yrs now. We have been together for 7. I have a son and a daughter from a previous relationship, but when my husband came into the picture they were 2 and 4yrs old, so my husband is pretty much all they know as a father. Their father takes no part in their lives at all. My children have my last name and their father is not in the birth certificate. So my question is how do we change their last names to my husband's last name? What are the steps to take and how long does it take? Thank you in advance for all your help :)

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Thank you everyone for all the input :) It definitely has helped me a lot. Thank you for the resources and encouragement :)

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Here's a link to the CA courts website help section. It has all the questions and answers about changing a child's last name on it.


Be sure to read and understand that changing your children's name to your husband's name does NOT make him a LEGAL PARENT of theirs. It simply gives them his name. The ONLY way to make him a LEGAL parent is for him to adopt them. And that's a whole other issue. But there's also a Help section for THAT too.

Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Dear Ellie,
You do not have to have a formal adoption to have a child's last name changed.
It's a long story, but my sister changed her son's name to her 2nd husband's last name.
Contact the county courthouse where you live or call a legal aid office to receive a name change packet.
It will outline all the rules, etc.
My nephew's father took off before he was born and stole everything he could get his hands on from our entire family on his way out. My sister could prove she had no idea where he was and just had to file papers then place an ad in the legal section of the newspaper near his last known address so he could come forward and object to the name change.
He didn't want to be found, so it all went off without a hitch. Your case could either be easier or more complicated by the fact the the father's name is not on the birth certificate.

Dear Ellie,
My mom remarried when I was 3. Her husband was the only father I ever knew. At 9 years old I asked him to adopt me. I love him dearly. You are blessed to have a good man. Sorry I can't answer your question, but wanted to encourage you. God Bless.

I think your husband may have to adopt them in order to have their name changed. You might find answers on the Social Security page or by calling your county registrar (in the blue government pages of the phone book) or the office of vital records....

Hi Ellie,

I found some info on the process at the link below. I changed my daughters middle name on her birth certificate and it takes about a year. I'm not sure about the process involving the last name, although it may be less involved if you don't have to change the info on their birth certificate. Good luck.


Not sure how it's done these days, but when we had the same situation nearly 40 years ago with my son, my husband and I went to an attorney to have my husband adopt my boy. We had to wait for a four week period during which an advertisement was put in the papers to allow the natural father a chance to come forward and protest (because we didn't know his whereabouts). If you know how to contact the natural father of your children, you may need some paperwork from him to assure that he isn't going to come back and try to assume his parental rights. Once our waiting period was over, it was a simple process of paperwork and a judge's approval. In our case, the birth certificate was changed to show my husband as the father. This has caused some quite interesting situations because my husband is younger than I am, and was only thirteen years old when my son was born. The only drawback to having the husband's name listed as the father - with no record of the natural father's name - that I can see is if your children ever wish to research their genealogy. For that reason, I would suggest you keep a record of all you know about their natural father and his family. Even if you have no desire to have any contact with them, your children have a right to know. At least that's my opinion, and I found that by my son having access to that information he was better able to accept my husband as his father during the 'difficult' years.

go to the web site for your county clerks office. They have all the paperwork. Be forewarned that changing names isn't cheap. I have a horrible last name that I was planning on changing until I found out that it would cost me about $600 (and yet a marriage license is only about $50 and comes with a free name change.)

Hi Ellie,

There is a website called www.USLegalForms.com that you can go to. They have everything you need! I hope this helps! Isn't nice to know that the Lord is our banner, and that he goes before us!He is hope to the hopeless, a friend to the friendless, our helper in ALL our times of need!

A little about me:
I am 35, and happily married to my best friend of nearly 12 years! I am a stay at home mama, and a home schooling mama to 4 incredible little men ages 9 1/2,7, and twins that are 5. We are a Christian family, and I love that I can know, understand , and receive God's amazing grace every day of my life!

Hello Ellie:
I am assuming that you are talking about adoption with the name change. I have had this within our family and was told that if you have a statement from the birth father since you know who he is, that he gives up his parental rights to the children & is no longer expected to pay for anything at any future time it generally goes rather easy. The one thing you do want is any and all medical information about both sides of the fathers family just in case it is needed in the future. Get a good lawyer to help you as the birth certificates will be changed as well, and any sosial security card information. When my step mother did it for her children it cost very little. Best Wishes, Nana Glenda

OSBA - Law You Can Use
... article, the term "adoption" will refer to step-parent adoption. ... change in last name and listing the adopting step-parent as the child's natural parent. ...www.ohiobar.org/pub/lycu/index.asp?articleid=209 - Cached

Adoption by step parent - RootsMagic Forums
How do I handle the new name Smith? Walter eventually has children, and their last name is Smith. ... I would change the son's name to Smith, the name he will ...www.rootsmagic.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=945 - 53k - Cached
Rapid Adoption.com - Your Adoption Forms Company
Benefits of Using Our Step Parent Adoption Forms Service. NO LAWYERS NEEDED ... many adoptions the new parents would like the child to take on their last name. ...www.rapidadoption.com/services_step_parent_adoption.html - Cached

My 2 cent worth. In 1966 my father adopted me when I was 4 and my name was changed. My biological father had never been part of my life but he was on the birth certificate and I had been given his surname, though my mother had her maiden name since she had never married my biological father. When I was adopted the birth certificate was changed and when I was a teen this really bothered me. I felt that my birth certificate was basically a lie since the person responsible for my birth was not my adopted father. I guess you can figure out that I was a bit of a pill when I was a teenager. I know that my parents were trying to make things easier for me by me having the same name as the rest of the family but it bugged me. I'm telling you this because while a name change may seem straight forward to you as the parent as a child (especially as they get older) it can feel as if their identity was altered. I'm 46 years old and I have never felt that my maiden(adopted) name was mine. Now I'm married and I don't feel as if that name is mine either. So maybe it's just me. Good-luck.

Adoption! it's what my family did with my sister & me b/c my mom's 1st husband (our bio dad) wasn't in the picture...i have a GREAT father, and we never think of him as our 'adopted' dad. ALSO my mom had him put on our birth certificate-don't really know how that was done, it was the 80's

My suggestion would be to have your husband formally adopt them, rather than just changing their names. The benefit there is that if something were to happen to you, then he would have the legal right to keep them. Otherwise, the courts would try to reunite them with their biological father.

My husband adopted my daughter around 12 years ago and I as recall we went through the Probation Department in Sacramento County. You can call the county offices where you live and find out what department you go through.

If the biological father will sign his rights away, then it is very easy and costs little to nothing (at least it did at the time). The only thing you'd be giving up is child support from the biological father, if you even get that now.

From my experience, your husband will have to file for adoption of the kids. There is a really good book that I used, but I can't remember exactly what it was called. I think it was something like, How to adopt a child in CA(if you are in CA). I also used the same tyoe of book for something else and I found it in the library, so you may want to check on that. The paperwork is not too hard, but there will be a filing fee or something. Good luck!

If you are certain that the children's father will not argue the relationship issue you can file a Petition to Change Name with the court and put your name and your current husband's name for them.
Let me know if you want to do this and I can help you.
I am a certified paralegal and can type up the appropriate forms and then all you will need to do is take them to the court and file them.
T. Yeh, Paralegal
Notary Public
Sacramento, CA

Hi Ellie!

You sound like a very happy family. I am happy for you :O)

For you, you need to change your name through Social Security and DMV. This will cover IRS, etc... as well.

Your children need you to go through Social Security as well, but your husband may need to adopt them to have any legal rights. This is the part I am unsure about.

HOw long does it take? Well, it's "the system", so it can take a little while, but when I got married and changed my name, I received my new cards within a month. So, not too long I guess.

Good luck changing their names, as that will be the hardest part.

~N. :O)

You might want to consider having him adopt them, then he becomes their legal father rather than just having the same name. It would probably be more complex, but would put their relationship on a firm legal footing for the future. If anything happened to you, he'd continue to be their father. Even if you change their names, if you were incapacitated, he wouldn't necessarily get custody.


Contact an adoption attorney. If you are in Modesto, I can recommend Mark Kanai.

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