Name Changes and Corrections to Birth Certificates

There are many reasons why someone may need to or want to change their name.  In Georgia once a person reaches the age of majority (18 years old) they can seek to have their name changed.  This Name Change Petition is filed in the Superior Court of the County where the applicant resides.  A notice in the local, legal newspaper must be complied with.  It is a relatively straight forward process, but you may still wish to have the assistance of an attorney to ensure the process is smooth and completed as quickly as the law allows.

Other frequent “name change requests” come from the parent of a child and wanting to change the name of the minor child.  This can be difficult or near impossible.  If the parents of the child were married and divorced, neither parent has the right to unilaterally change the name of the child.  The consent of both parents is required.  However, if one parent has abandoned the child and failed to pay child support for a period of 5 years, the custodial parent can change the child’s name without the consent of the other parent.

The same thing is true for children born outside of wedlock.  If the mother gives the child the father’s last name on the birth certificate, but later on wishes she had not done so, she will have to obtain the consent of the biological father to change the child’s name.  Unless that father has abandoned the child and not paid support for a period of 5 years.

If on the other hand the mother has married another person and that husband wishes to adopt the child, then through the adoption process the child’s name can be changed.  If the father of a child born outside of wedlock fails to pay child support for 1 year, or fails to visit with the child for 1 year, then the step parent adoption can proceed despite any objection by the biological father.

Lastly, sometimes a name change is not required.  This situation arises when there is a misspelling of the child’s name or some other “typo” on the birth certificate.  The Georgia Department of Vital Records has an administrative process to correct these “typos.”  If you are dealing with a typo on a birth certificate you owe it to yourself to try the administrative resolution before you go to Superior Court for a name change to correct the typo.  The administrative process is easier, mush less expensive and quicker than a formal name change.  If the Department of Vital Records rejects the administrative request, then the parties must go to Superior Court and complete the name change process to correct the birth certificate.