Can I legally change my daughter's last name without the consent of her absent father?
I have a 5-year-old daughter and she has her father's last name. He has not been around since she was a year old although he does have a court order to pay child support. She has just started school and they are learning how to write their names and the only last name she knows is mine and so she assumes hers is the same. I have asked him to sign his rights over, but he refused. So knowing that can I legally change her last name or at least hyphenate it so we share the same last name?
Unless the other parent has terminated his or her parental rights, you can not change a minor child's last name without the other parent's consent. Termination can be voluntary or by the court (if it has been determined that the parent abandoned the child). The procedure in North Carolina to change the name of a minor is governed by the statute listed below. You would prepare a Petition and Notice of Petition. It may be easier to gain consent from her Father if you go the hyphenation route. As for the child support, you should take the necessary steps to enforce the order. Here is the statute. It can indeed sound like legalese. Try and get help from someone with it all. Good luck. North Carolina General Statutes 101-2. Procedure for changing name; petition; notice. A person who wishes, for good cause shown, to change his name must file his application before the clerk of the superior court of the county in which he lives, having first given 10 days' notice of the application by publication at the courthouse door. Applications to change the name of minor children may be filed by their parent or parents or guardian or next friend of such minor children, and such applications may be joined in the application for a change of name filed by their parent or parents: Provided nothing herein shall be construed to permit one parent to make such application on behalf of a minor child without the consent of the other parent of such minor child if both parents be living, except that a minor who has reached the age of 16 years, upon proper application to the clerk may change his or her name, with the consent of the a parent who has custody of the minor and has supported the minor, without the necessity of obtaining the consent of the other parent, when the clerk of court is satisfied that the other parent has abandoned the minor. Provided, further, that a change of parentage or the addition of information relating to parentage on the birth certificate of any person shall be made pursuant to G.S.130A-118. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section, the consent of a parent who has abandoned a minor child shall not be required if there is filed with the clerk a copy of an order of a court of competent jurisdiction adjudicating that such parent has abandoned such minor child. In the event that a court of competent jurisdiction has not therefore declared the minor child to be an abandoned child then on written notice of not less than 10 days to the parent allege to have abandoned the child, by registered or certified mail directed to such parent's last known address, the clerk of superior court is hereby authorized to determine whether an abandonment has taken place. If said parent denies that an abandonment has taken place, this issue of fact shall be determined as provided in G.S. 1-273, and if abandonment is determined, then the consent of said parent shall not be required. Upon final determination of this issue of fact the proceeding shall be transferred back to the special proceedings docket for further action by the clerk.(1891, c. 145; Rev., s. 2147; C.S., s. 2971; 1947, c. 115; 1953, c. 678; 1955, c. 951, s. 3; 1957, c. 1442; 1959, c. 1161, s. 7;1971, c. 444, s. 1; 1995, c. 509, s. 135.2 (f).)