In Texas, if both parents have parental rights, both parties have to be informed about the desire to change the child’s name. If both parents are informed of the name change request and agree to it, they can file the name change forms together.
However, if one parent is filing and the other parent is unaware or does not agree to file the forms, the other parent will have to be served. The filing parent will turn in the petition to change the child’s name, and arrange to have the other parent served with proper documents. Proof of service must be filed with the court, and the served party is not required to sign anything. After service, the served parent has 20 days to file an answer. After 20 days, if the served parent has not filed an answer, the case can be finished by default.
If the served parent does file an answer, a contested hearing must be scheduled. At this hearing, the parents will discuss the reasons for why or why not the name change should be approved. The judge will determine if the name change is in the child’s best interest based on the forms and the responses provided at the hearing. If the judge decides to grant the name change, the filing parent will turn in the order changing the name of the child to the clerk’s office.
At this point, the case is finished. However, after the case is over, the filing parent is responsible for notifying the required agencies including the local social security office, the Texas Department of State Health Services, Vital Statistics Unit, the local passport office, and the child’s school.
If a parent’s rights have been terminated or they are deceased, the filing parent may file their petition to change the child’s name along with a copy of the termination papers or death certificate. After doing so, the filing parent may go in front of a judge and discuss the reasons to change the child’s name. If the judge grants the request, the document is filed with the clerk’s office and again the parent must notify the appropriate agencies.
These rules do not apply to minor spelling changes which do not require the parent to go in front of the court. These rules still apply even if the other parent is not listed on the birth certificate.