Laws Regarding Children's Names After a Divorce in Oregon
By Jim Thomas
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After a divorce, you may want to change your child's name. In Oregon, the procedure for changing a child's name can be found in section 33.420 of the state's statutes. In the 21st century, a growing number of courts have abandoned the historical tradition of allowing a father to insist a child retain his name. A mother may change her child's name if it is in the best interests of the child. However, a divorce in and of itself is not sufficient to establish that a name change is in the best interests of the child.
In Oregon, you must follow several steps to change the name of your child. The law requires you to file a petition with the county court and post notice of the petition. The petition should indicate the cause for the name change. Once you file the petition and have a case number, the court will tell you the requirements for posting notice. The other parent, whether or not he has custody, must receive notice of the petition.
Consent and Objection
If the other parent agrees to the name change, he can sign a consent form. His signature must be witnessed or notarized by staff at the county court. If the child is 15 or older, he also must consent to the name change. You should file these consent forms with the court. If the other parent files an objection with the court, you will be notified of a hearing date on your petition for a name change. Once the judgment is signed, you must post a notice of the name change judgment. Finally, you must file another form indicating the proof of posting.
Courts generally find it is in the best interests of the child to approve a name change if your child is adopted by a stepparent, if the biological parent has terminated his parental rights and responsibilities, has been found to be abusive and/or convicted of a crime. In other cases, courts will weigh such factors as the age of the child, the relationships between the child and parents, and any negative effects the name change would have upon the child. The court also considers the child's wishes, especially if the child is old enough to understand the significance of the name change.
If your petition for a name change is granted, you will need to notify other parties, such as schools, DMV and Social Security Administration, of the name change. You can do so by obtaining a certified copy of the Change of Name General Statement from the county courthouse. To obtain a new birth certificate with the new name of your child, contact the Center for Health Statistics in Portland, Oregon.
Jim Thomas has been a freelance writer since 1978. He wrote a book about professional golfers and has written magazine articles about sports, politics, legal issues, travel and business for national and Northwest publications. He received a Juris Doctor from Duke Law School and a Bachelor of Science in political science from Whitman College.