If Only One Parent is Filing to Change a Child’s Name

If you are the only parent filing a petition (request) to change your child's name - whether the other parent agrees or not - you will get a court date and you will have to let the other parent know about your petition and about the court date for the petition. If your child's other parent does not agree to changing the child's name, he or she has the right to oppose your request.

If the judge approves your request, you will get a court order called a "decree" changing your 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). You need 1 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.

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 3 copies of all your forms

The court will keep the original. One copy will be for you and the other will be for your child's other parent. You will need the third 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 your 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 the other parent of your child

Serve your child’s other parent with a copy of the paperwork at least 30 days before the court date. You need someone 18 or older, NOT you, to give the other 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), 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) and give it to you. You have to file this proof of service before your court hearing, or take it to your court hearing (ask your court clerk about any special rules in your county).

  • If the other parent lives in California, you must have someone serve him or her in person.

  • If the other parent lives outside California, you can serve him or her 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

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.

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.

7. Go to your court hearing

Go to court on your hearing date and take your proof that the Order to Show Cause was published in the newspaper, along with the Decree Changing Name (Form NC-130) for the judge to sign. Make sure you also take the proof of service showing the other parent got a copy of the papers.

If your child’s other parent does not agree to changing the child’s name, the judge will make a decision based on the best interest of your child. The judge will listen to everything you and your child’s other parent have to say, look at the facts of the situation, and decide what would be best for your child.

If the court finds that it would be best for your child to change his or her name, then you will get a court decree changing the child’s name. If the court finds that it would NOT be best for your child to change his or her name, then the judge will deny your request.

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 (Form NC-130). Once you get your signed decree, get a certified copy from the court clerk. You will need this to change your child’s birth certificate, social security card, and other papers like a passport.

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

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