How Do You Legally Change Your Child’s Last Name in Virginia?

How to Change Your Child's Last Name in VA

To change your minor child’s last name in Virginia you must:

  1. file a sworn application that requests a change to the child’s last name and complies with Virginia Code § 8.01-217;
  2. pay the required filing fee;
  3. have the other parent sign the application, or if they will not agree, formally notify them of the filing of the application; and
  4. establish that the name change is in the child’s best interest.

What information is needed for the name change application?

You will need to provide the following information on the name change application pursuant to Virginia Code § 8.01-217:

  1. Minor child’s full name
  2. Applicant’s full name and address
  3. Applicant’s relationship to the child
  4. Minor’s date and place of birth
  5. Minor’s residence address
  6. Full names and addresses of parents
  7. Statement regarding whether minor has ever been convicted of a felony, whether minor is incarcerated, whether minor is a probationer, and whether minor is required to register as a sex offender
  8. Reason for name change

Virginia Circuit Court Form CC-1427 is used to change the name of a minor.

Where do you file the name change application?

In general, a person seeking to change the name of a minor child must file the name change application in the circuit court of the county or city in which the child resides.1 “If no place of abode exists, such person may apply to any circuit court which shall consider such application if it finds that good cause exists therefor under the circumstances alleged.”2

How much does a name change for a minor child cost in Virginia?

The cost for a name change for a minor child in Virginia differs slightly depending on the court, but generally the cost is between $37.00 to $46.00. The following are the filing fees for the Hampton Roads, Virginia Circuit Courts as of the time of this writing. Check with your clerk’s office to verify that these fees are current. You may also use the following Virginia Circuit Court Civil Filling Fee Calculator.

  1. Virginia Beach – $41.00
  2. Chesapeake – $44.00
  3. Norfolk – $46.00
  4. Suffolk – $41.00
  5. Portsmouth – $46.00
  6. Hampton – $39.00
  7. Newport News -$41.00

If you have sole legal custody, can you change your child’s name without notifying the other parent?

Having sole legal custody does not give you the right to change your child’s name without notifying the other parent.

What happens if the other parent will not agree to the name change?

If the other parent does not agree to the name change, you will have to notice a court hearing and prove to the judge that the name change is in the best interest of the minor.3 In general, you will have to get the sheriff or a private process server to serve a copy of the application and notice on the other parent to appear in court for the hearing date. The Court may waive notice if it finds by clear and convincing evidence at an ex parte hearing that “such notice would present a serious threat to the health and safety of the applicant.”4

How do you establish that the name change you want is in the child’s best interest?

To establish that the name change you want for your child is in the child’s best interest you have the burden to provide substantial supporting reasons, which according to the Virginia Supreme Court may include the following:

1) The parent sharing his or her surname with the minor has “abandoned the natural ties ordinarily existing [*7]  between parent and child,”

2) The parent sharing his or her surname with the minor “has engaged in misconduct sufficient to embarrass the [minor] in the continued use” of the parent’s name,

3) The minor “otherwise will suffer substantial detriment” by bearing the surname he or she currently bears, or

4) The minor “is of sufficient age and discretion to make an intelligent choice and . . . desires that [his or her] name be changed.”

Spero v. Heath, 267 Va. 477, 479-480, 593 S.E.2d 239 (2004), quoting Flowers v. Cain, 218 Va. 234, 236-37, 237 S.E.2d 111 (1977).

“A circuit court cannot change a child’s name because of minor inconvenience or minor embarrassment.”5

Further Research

For further guidance on how the Virginia Supreme Court has applied the “substantial reasons” test to determine whether a name change is in a child’s best interests, please see the following cases:

  1. McMahon v. Wirick, 288 Va. 197, 762 S.E.2d 781 (2014).
  2. Spero v. Heath, 267 Va. 477, 593 S.E.2d 239 (2004).
  3. May v. Grandy, 259 Va. 629, 528 S.E.2d 105 (2000).
  4. Rowland v. Shurbutt, 259 Va. 305, 525 S.E.2d 917 (2000).
  5. Beyah v. Shelton, 231 Va. 432, 344 S.E.2d 909 (1986).
  6. Flowers v. Cain, 218 Va. 234, 237 S.E.2d 111 (1977).
  7. See also Sykes v. Alexander, No. 0809-22-1 (Ct. App. July 25, 2023). (Unpublished Virginia Court of Appeals opinion).

Contact a Virginia Beach Name Change Attorney Today

Need help changing your child’s last name? Please give Jordan A. Fanney a call at 757-491-1841 or send him a message through his online contact form.

Related Posts

For information about adult name changes, please see How Do You Go Back to Your Maiden Name After Divorce in VA?

About the Author

Jordan Fanney is a Virginia Beach divorce attorney that can help you legally change your child's last name in Virginia

Jordan A. Fanney, Esq. is a skilled divorce attorney in Virginia Beach who works for Poole Brooke Plumlee PC.  He practices family law and divorce in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Hampton, Newport News and the surrounding area.
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  1. Va. Code § 8.01-217(A). ↩︎
  2. Id. ↩︎
  3. Id. ↩︎
  4. Id. ↩︎
  5. May v. Grandy, 259 Va. 629, 632, 528 S.E.2d 105, 107 (2000) ↩︎

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