Many Texans choose to revert to a previous surname name after divorce. In Texas, as in other states, you have the option to voluntarily elect to change your last name as a part of your divorce decree.
If you hope to also change the surnames of your children in a divorce — particularly if you expect to receive full or primary custody — you will need to follow through on additional legal measures under Texas law.
Requesting a court order for a name change
While spouses have the right to elect a prior or maiden name in a divorce decree, courts will not consider child names as a part of this process. To change a child’s name, you will need to petition the court for additional legal proceedings. A successful name change will result in a separate court order allowing the change.
Know that changing a child’s name never affects the legal identity of the other parent, and it has no bearing on custody, visitation, financial support or other parental rights.
Seeking consent of the other parent
If you wish to change your child’s name in Texas, having the consent of the other parent will save a significant degree of time and effort. You may bypass the consent of the other parent only when the other parent is deceased or when a court has terminated his or her parental rights. Even if you have primary custody, the other parent is incarcerated or yours is the only name on the birth certificate, Texas requires that you still seek the consent of the other parent.
If you do not know who the other parent is, how to contact the other parent or you fear contacting him or her for domestic violence reasons, you may need to seek legal help before petitioning the court.
Bringing the case before a court
If the other parent contests the name change, you may still be able to obtain a court order to change your child’s name. You will probably need to bring your case before a court, and a judge will hear both sides before making a determination based on the perceived best interest of the child. In making this determination, a court will consider potential impacts — material and nonmaterial — on each parent and the child, potential impacts on family relationships and the length of time the child has used the current name.