I have had several clients attempting to change the names of their children. It is usually the mother calling, trying to change the child's last name from the father's last name to the mother's last name. There are some issues in this area of family law that should be kept in mind.
In the State of Florida, the biological mother has all the rights to her children born out of wedlock. Pursuant to Florida Statue 744.301, the mother is considered the "natural guardian." This is true UNLESS AND UNTIL paternity is established by a Court. Oftentimes, paternity is established through a child support proceeding, and the mother was unaware this was done. It's important to consult an attorney to find out if paternity was established because, if so, then you cannot change your child's name without the father's consent. Once paternity is established, the biological father is also considered the legal father, and he has the same rights to the child, including the right to be noticed and heard on a name change. (For dads, check out our blog explaining these rights in more detail.)
If the father's name is reflected on the birth certificate, that is evidence of paternity but most judges will still grant your petition for a name change if paternity was not established through the courts. Some judges may require you to notice the father for a name change, but will still grant the petition if sufficient evidence is presented and argued to the Court of why this would be in the child's best interest. Although this area of family law is not black-and-white, your attorney would be able to help navigate you through the best ways to have your petition granted.
Feel free to contact our office for a free phone consultation and learn how you can change your child's name.