This article explains how you can change your child’s name. If you want to change your own name, see How to Change Your Name in New Jersey.
How do I get a court order giving me permission to change my child’s name?
The New Jersey Court has forms you can use to file for a name change.
To file for a name change for your child, you must file a “verified complaint” and certification of confidential information including your child’s social security number in the Chancery Division, Family Part. The verified complaint will include your child’s legal name, date of birth, and other information.
The verified complaint includes a statement that you are not applying for a name change to avoid creditors or criminal prosecution of the child. You must also list any judgments against the child and the reason you would like to change the child’s name. In a verified complaint, you must certify (swear) that the information in the complaint is true. An “order fixing the date for the hearing” and a form for the judge to use for the final judgment must also be submitted to the court.
File these documents with the court with the fee of $250. If you cannot afford the fee, you can request a fee waiver from the court. (More information is available at Court Filing Fee Waivers.)
When the court receives your papers, the clerk of the court will set a date for the hearing, give the case a docket number, and fill out any other information on the Order Fixing Date for Hearing. Then the court will return the papers to you marked ‘filed’.
Once you receive the paperwork from the court, you are responsible for sending the papers to the Division of Criminal Justice.
Look closely at the Order Fixing Date for Hearing. It will have the date by which you must send the paperwork to the Division and the manner you must send the papers.
What if my child or I have been convicted of a crime or my child has pending criminal or juvenile delinquency charges?
If you have any pending criminal convictions or your child has pending criminal or juvenile delinquency charges, you must also send a copy of all papers to the prosecutor of any town or county where you or your child has pending charges. These papers must also be sent to the Division of Criminal Justice and any prosecutor at least 20 days before the hearing. When you receive the certified mail green cards back from the post office, you submit them to the court as proof that the documents were mailed to the Division of Criminal Justice and the prosecutor.
The prosecutor and the director of criminal justice have the right to file an objection if they believe the name change is intended to avoid or obstruct criminal prosecution, avoid creditors, or perpetrate criminal or civil fraud.
Who is required to be notified of the request to change a child’s name?
If only one of the child’s parents is filing the application on behalf of a child and the child’s other parent does not live with the child, the parent filing the application must also send copies of the verified complaint and certification and Order Fixing Date of Hearing to the child’s other birth parent or adoptive parent. This requirement gives the child’s other parent an opportunity to file objections to a request to change the child’s name if they feels that doing so would not be good for the child.
The documents must be sent to the other parent’s last known address 20 days or more before the hearing date. The documents should be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested. When you receive the certified mail green card back from the post office, you must submit it to the court as proof that the documents were mailed to the child’s other parent.
What happens at the hearing?
The court will probably sign the order allowing the child to assume the new name if there are no objections. The order will allow the child to start using the new name immediately.
If the other parent objects, you must provide evidence that shows the judge that the requested name change is in the child’s best interests. To evaluate whether a name change is in a child’s best interests, the court looks at several factors, including the length of time that the child has used their current name; and, if the child is old enough to express their preference. If a child is transgender and is requesting a name change to reflect their gender, the court will also look at the name the child is known by; if the child has received medical or mental health counseling; and potential anxiety, embarrassment, or discomfort caused by the child’s having a name they believe does not reflect their outward appearance or gender identity. There is no rule as to what names are in a child’s best interests and what names are not. Instead, the court carefully considers the individual circumstances of every case concerning a child.
What is required after the hearing?
Certified copies with a raised seal of the Final Judgment and Final Judgment Addendum can be ordered from the court using the Judicial Electronic Document System (JEDS) by submitting a request to the court for a $25 fee for each certified copy. Send a certified copy to the Department of the Treasury within 45 days from the date your child can begin using their new name. You must also send a certified copy to the Registrar of Vital Statistics in the state where the child was born. Finally, to change a name on a driver’s license, motor vehicle registration, or handicapped or non-driver’s identification card, you must present a certified copy with a raised seal to the Motor Vehicle Agency or Regional Service Center within 2 weeks from the date your child can begin using their new name.
This information last reviewed: Oct 31, 2023