A Guardian Changing a Child's Name

If you are the child’s guardian and want to change his or her name, you will have to start by filing a Petition for Change of Name. You will then get a court date and you will have to let the child's parents know about your petition and about the court date for the petition. If the child's parents do not agree to changing the child's name, they have the right to oppose your request.

If the judge approves your request, you will get a court order called a "decree" changing the child's name. The court process can take up to 3 months, though in busier courts it may take longer.

To file, follow these steps:


1. Fill out your court forms

Fill out these forms:

  • Petition for Change of Name (Form NC-100), including the Attachment to Petition for Change of Name (Form NC-110) and Supplemental Attachment to Petition for Change of Name (Declaration of Guardian) (Form NC-110G). You need 1 attachment and 1 supplemental attachment for each child whose name you want to change.
  • Order to Show Cause for Change of Name (Form NC-120).
  • Civil Case Cover Sheet (Form CM-010).

Some courts also require you to fill out local forms to ask for a name change. Ask your local court clerk if there are local forms you have to fill out. You may be able to find local court forms on your superior court's website.

Important: If you are changing a child's name and the child is in the State Witness Program or in the address confidentiality program and you are changing his or her name to avoid domestic violence or stalking or the child is a victim of sexual assault and you are asking for the name change on his or her behalf, make sure you explain in the Attachment to Petition for Change of Name (Form NC-110) because it will affect the steps you have to follow to change the child's name. You can find out more on item 7 on page 2 of Form NC-100 and on the Information Sheet for Name Change Proceedings Under Address Confidentiality Program (Safe at Home) (Form NC-400-INFO). If you are not sure what to do, talk to a lawyer or your court's self-help center

2. Have your forms reviewed

If your court’s family law facilitator or self-help center helps people with name change cases, ask them to review your paperwork. They can make sure you filled it out properly before you move ahead with your case.

3. Make 4 copies of all your forms

The court will keep the original. One copy will be for you. One copy will go to each of the child's parents. You will need the fourth copy to publish it in the newspaper.

4. File your forms with the court clerk

File all your forms with the copies in the court in the county where the child lives. The clerk will stamp your forms with “Filed,” keep the original and return the copies to you. The Order to Show Cause will have information on your court date, time, and department number. 

You will have to pay a filing fee. Find out how much the filing fee is for a first petition (sometimes called a “first appearance” or “first papers”). If you cannot afford the fee, you can ask for a fee waiver.

5. Serve both parents of the child

Serve both of the child’s parents with a copy of the paperwork at least 30 days before the court date. You need someone 18 or older, NOT you, to give each parent a copy of the filed Petition for Change of Name (Form NC-100), the Attachment to Petition for Change of Name (Form NC-110), the Supplemental Attachment to Petition for Change of Name (Declaration of Guardian) (Form NC-110G), and the Order to Show Cause for Change of Name (Form NC-120) in person.

The server has to fill out a Proof of Service of Order to Show Cause (Change of Name) (Form NC-121) for each parent and give them to you. You have to file these proofs of service before your court hearing, or take them to your court hearing (ask your court clerk about any special rules in your county).

  • If the parents live in California, you must have someone serve them in person.
  • If 1 or both parents live outside California, you can serve the out-of-state parent by certified mail, return receipt requested. But, remember, you can NOT mail the papers yourself.

Click for more information about "serving court papers.”

6. Publish the Order to Show Cause for Change of Name (If Required)

In most cases you must publish the Order to Show Cause for Change of Name (Form NC-120) in a newspaper of general circulation once a week for 4 weeks in a row. Your court most likely has a list of newspapers that are approved for publishing legal notices.  

Important: If you are changing a child's name and the child is in the State Witness Program or in the address confidentiality program and you are changing his or her name to avoid domestic violence or stalking or the child is a victim of sexual assault and you are asking for the name change on his or her behalf, you may not need to publish the Order to Show Cause. You can find out more on item 7 on page 2 of Form NC-100 and on the Information Sheet for Name Change Proceedings Under Address Confidentiality Program (Safe at Home) (Form NC-400-INFO). If you are not sure what to do, talk to a lawyer or your court's self-help center.

The cost for publication can vary greatly between newspapers and your court fee waiver will not waive your publication fees. So it is very important that you check the price of publishing BEFORE you put the name of the newspaper in the Order to Show Cause for Change of Name . This is because once the judge signs the Order to Show Cause for Change of Name you must publish in the newspaper listed on the form. You cannot change the form after it is signed by the judge.

7. Go to your court hearing

Go to court on your hearing date and take the proof of publication from the newspaper along with the Decree Changing Name (Change of Name of Minor by Guardian) (Form NC-130G) for the judge to sign. Make sure you also take both proofs of service showing the parents each got a copy of the papers.

8. Get your Decree Changing Name from the court

If the judge approves your request for a change of name, the judge will sign the Decree Changing Name (Change of Name of Minor by Guardian) (Form NC-130G). Once you get your signed decree, get a certified copy from the court clerk. You will need this to change the child’s birth certificate, social security card, and other papers like a passport.

Click for instructions on changing the child's birth certificate after a court order.

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