Changing a child’s last name on a birth certificate in North Carolina is not just a matter of personal choice; it’s a legal process that requires careful attention to detail. This blog will break down the essential elements you need to know about how to change a child’s last name on a birth certificate.
Governed by North Carolina statutes, the procedure involves multiple steps and conditions you must meet. However, whether you’re a parent, guardian, or someone interested in understanding the legal intricacies, we’ll provide a straightforward roadmap for changing a child’s last name on a birth certificate in North Carolina.
How Do I Change My Child’s Last Name on a Birth Certificate?
Changing a child’s last name on a birth certificate in North Carolina involves several legal steps. Below are the key points based on North Carolina statutes GS 130A-118 and § 101-2.
Filing the Application for a New Birth Certificate
The first step in the process is to file an application with the clerk of the superior court in the county where you reside.
First, you’ll need to complete the Petition for Name Change for a Minor and have this form notarized. Then, you’ll need to obtain an Affidavit of Parental Consent from the Non-Petitioning Parent. Next, the other parent must complete the Affidavit of Parental Consent. This form also requires notarization.
According to some counties, the Affidavit of Parental Consent is Mandatory. The non-petitioning parent must fill out the Affidavit of Parental Consent, even if their name doesn’t appear on the child’s birth certificate. If the other parent has passed away, you must provide a death certificate as proof.
The documents you may need will depend on the county you live in but may include:
- Petition for Name Change (Minor)
- Affidavit of Parental Consent (if required)
- Birth Certificate (Certified Copy)
- Proof of Identification (Parent(s)) (driver’s license, passport)
- Proof of Residency (Parents) — Documents with your name and current address (utility bill, phone bill, cable bill)
- Filing fee in cash or money order (1)
According to § 101-2(a), you also must give 10 days’ notice of the application by publishing it at the courthouse door. This serves as a public announcement of your intent to change your child’s name.
Exceptions to the Public Notice Rule
However, there are certain exceptions to this rule. As per § 101-2(b), you don’t have to publish the notice if:
You’re Part of an Address Confidentiality Program
If you’re participating in an address confidentiality program under Chapter 15C of the General Statutes, you’re exempt from the publication requirement.
You’re a Victim of Domestic Violence, Sexual Offense, or Stalking
If you can provide evidence that you’re a victim of domestic violence, sexual offense, or stalking, you also don’t need to publish the notice.
Court Order Mandates Privacy of Records in These Circumstances
If you qualify for the exceptions mentioned above, your application and the entire court record relating to the name change will NOT be a matter of public record.
This is according to § 101-2(c), which states that these records will be kept separately and can only be examined by a court order or with your written consent.
Changing a Minor’s Name
When it comes to changing a minor’s name, § 101-2(d) states that an application can be filed by the child’s parent or parents, legal guardians, or a guardian ad litem.
North Carolina limits the number of times a person may change their name. If you have already changed your name once, you should contact an attorney for advice before filing for another name change. It is possible to seek a second name change successfully. A minor can change their name two times.
If one or both parents are also looking to change their own names, they can include the child’s name change request with their own application. This means you can simultaneously handle both the child’s and the parent’s name changes, streamlining the process and potentially saving time and effort. Instead of filing separate applications and going through the process twice, you can take care of it all in one go.
The Other Parent Must Give Consent (Unless Special Circumstances Apply)
In North Carolina, both parents generally need to consent to change a minor child’s name, as stated in § 101-2(d).
This means that if both parents are alive, they must both agree to the name change and be part of the application process of the proposed order. However, there are specific conditions under which the consent of both parents is not required.
Abandonment by One Parent
If one parent has abandoned the child, the other parent can proceed with the name change application without needing the consent of the parent who has abandoned the child.
According to § 101-2(d)(1) and (2), you can prove abandonment by filing a copy of a court order that declares the other parent’s abandonment of the minor.
If no such court order exists, the clerk of the court can determine whether abandonment has occurred after giving 10 days’ written notice to the parent who allegedly abandoned the child.
If the clerk confirms abandonment, then you, as the parent involved in the child’s life, can proceed with the name change application without the consent of the abandoning parent.
Criminal Offenses Committed by One Parent
Suppose one parent was convicted of certain criminal offenses against the minor or a sibling of the minor. In that case, the other parent can file the name change application without the convicted parent’s consent.
The list of offenses includes the following:
- Felonious or misdemeanor child abuse
- Taking indecent liberties with a minor, rape, incest, assault, and other crimes of violence (as outlined in § 101-2(d)(3).
In such cases, the parent filing the application must submit proof of the other parent’s conviction to the clerk at the time of filing.
Minors 16 years and Older
A minor who has reached the age of 16 may file an application to change their name with the consent of the parent who has custody and supports them. They do not need the other parent’s consent when the clerk of court agrees that the other parent abandoned the minor.
By understanding these specific conditions, you can more easily change a minor’s name in North Carolina. Always consult a qualified name change lawyer to ensure you meet all legal requirements.
Other Vital Records Changes: Governing Laws to Change Child’s Birth Certificate
When changing a child’s birth certificate in North Carolina, the governing statute is GS 130A-118. This law specifically addresses how to change parentage information or add new information related to parentage on a birth certificate.
Birth Certificate Correction: Making a Change of Parentage on Birth Records
GS 130A-118 outlines the legal process for changing the parents’ names listed on a child’s birth record certificate. This could be relevant in various situations, such as:
- Paternity acknowledgment
- Legal changes in guardianship
The statute provides the framework for legally changing the other parent listed, ensuring that the birth records accurately reflect the child’s parentage.
Addition of Vital Records Information Relating to Parentage
The statute also covers scenarios where new information related to the other parent needs to be added to the birth certificate.
For example, if a biological father is identified after the birth certificate has been issued, GS 130A-118 provides the guidelines for adding that information to the official record.
Vital Records Documentation and Verification
Both changing and adding parentage information usually require specific documentation and verification.
This could include
- Court orders
- DNA tests
- Other legal documents that prove the change or addition is warranted and accurate.
Interplay with Name Change Laws
It’s important to note that while GS 130A-118 governs changes to parentage on the birth certificate, § 101-2 governs the process of changing a minor’s name.
If you want to change the name and parentage information on a child’s birth certificate, you’ll need to comply with both statutes.
Mailing the Court Order to Vital Records
Once you receive your court order, mail the completed birth certificate application form and include a certified copy of the name change court order along with your birth certificate petition and the Affidavit from the other parent.
Mail your application to:
North Carolina Vital Records
1903 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1900
Please note that North Carolina will accept court orders from other states to update the name and/or gender on a North Carolina birth certificate. (1)
You can also visit the county register of deeds where the birth occurred. Some county registers of deeds will provide this service for out-of-county vital events, so please check with your county register of deeds for the services they provide.
You will also need to pay $15 for the name change + $24 for the first copy of the requested certificate, plus $15 for each additional copy. (1)
Understanding these governing laws can help you successfully change a child’s birth certificate in North Carolina. A North Carolina name change attorney can ensure you follow all the necessary steps and meet all legal requirements.
Get Help Making Necessary Changes to Your Child’s Vital Records
At Scharff Law, we understand that changing your child’s vital records can be complex and emotionally charged. Whether you want to change or correct a name or modify other details on official documents, our experienced legal team is here to guide you through every step.
We’ll help you navigate North Carolina’s legal landscape, ensuring you comply with all state laws and regulations. Don’t go through this challenging time alone; let us provide the legal support you need to make these critical changes as smooth and stress-free as possible.