Can I Change My Child’s Last Name During a Divorce?

August 8, 2013  |  Elizabeth A. Schading

There are many reasons why a parent might wish to apply for a name change on behalf of a minor child during a divorce. Usually, this desire would come from a wife who wishes to revert back to her maiden name and who wishes the child to carry the maiden name as well.
In order to do this you will almost always need the permission of the other parent. However, there are exceptions.


Several factors will be taken into account. As usual, the courts will try to determine what’s best for the child.
To this end, the court will ask several questions, including:

  • How long has the child gone by the current last name?
  • How will changing the child’s last name affect his or her relationship with both parents?
  • If the child is old enough, what name does the child prefer?
  • Is there a degree of community respect or notoriety associated with either name?

Given those considerations neither the name change nor its denial are a “done deal,” especially if there really are compelling reasons why the child might be embarrassed or harassed for bearing the marital surname.
What would cause embarrassment or harassment? One example might be in cases where the spouse was involved in a very public criminal case that is well known and has impacted the spouse’s reputation in an extremely negative way.
It may be easier, however, simply to opt to keep your married surname rather than changing it during the divorce proceedings if it is important for you and your child to share the same last name after your divorce. Your own name change is usually treated as a matter of personal preference by the court.
If you live in the Minnesota metro area and you’re going through a divorce, contact BGS today. Our experienced, compassionate family law attorneys can help you navigate the issues of your divorce so that your post-divorce situation is as livable as possible. Call us today!