In Washington State any person over eighteen years of age can choose and use any name he or she wishes as long as the purpose of the change in the name is not to defraud another.
To get a court ordered name change, you must first file a petition in the District Court of the county or other judicial district in which you live.
A petition for name change should state your current full name, your requested new name, and the reasons for the change. An example of defrauding another would be to change names to avoid paying bills or other creditors or the escape obligations such as child support. The process to change the name of your minor child (a "minor" is a person under the age of eighteen years) is a little more involved. However, there are often questions relating to notifying government agencies and others of the name change. It is the purpose of this informational brochure to explain the procedure for changing a name, either your name or the name of a minor child. If the marriage ends, a name change may be included in the divorce decree, or by filing a petition for name change. If you have any questions not answered by this brochure, we will do our best to answer them or refer you to someone who can.
Even if you have sole legal and physical custody, the court might not allow you to change her last name if her other parent maintains a frequent and loving relationship with her and if he objects.


If he’s not adamantly opposed, you may be able to negotiate with him by pointing out all the reasons the change would benefit your child, or agree to a hyphenated name change so she retains his name as well.
If he objects, and if you know this before you begin the process, you'll have more time to prepare your arguments for the court. Speak with the court clerk and tell her whether you expect your child’s other parent to object.
If your child’s other parent is objecting, the clerk will probably also give you a summons so you can serve him with notice that you’re proceeding with a petition anyway.
If he is in agreement, the clerk will give you a consent form for your child’s other parent to sign. Ask the clerk about acceptable methods of service in your state if your child’s other parent is objecting.
If your child's other parent has agreed to the change and signed a consent, you generally do not have to serve him, but ask the clerk to make sure. In most states, your county sheriff will deliver the documents to your child’s other parent for a small fee. If he has had minimal contact with your child, gather calendars or other records that show how rarely he has visited with her. If your child is a teenager, have her sign a statement saying that she wants the name change, and have it notarized.


The judge will allow both you and your child’s other parent to give testimony regarding the matter and will make a decision to either approve or deny the change. You can then provide the order to the Social Security Administration and to your state’s department of vital records to change your child’s Social Security card and her birth certificate.
Nothing stated or implied in this article should be construed to be legal, tax, or professional advice.
Demand Media is not a law firm and this article should not be interpreted as creating an attorney-client or legal advisor relationship. LegalZoom is not a law firm and can only provide self-help services at your specific direction. Disclaimer: Communications between you and LegalZoom are protected by our Privacy Policy but not by the attorney-client privilege or as work product. LegalZoom provides access to independent attorneys and self-help services at your specific direction.
We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies.




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