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ScottyMacEsq
ScottyMacEsq, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 11295
Experience:  Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
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In the state of Texas, can a child (ages 11 and 15) change

Customer Question

In the state of Texas, can a child (ages 11 and 15) change their name by choice from their estranged father's last name to their step-dad's name. No contact with biological father inXXXXXdocuments forbidding him contact with them.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for using Just Answer. Just to be clear, the father's parental rights have not been terminated, either by decree or agreement, correct? What is the reason that the courts have forbid him contact?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

As we were getting divorced (in Missouri), he emotionally abused both children. Primarily my daughter (15 now, 7 at the time). The last time he saw the children, in September of 2002, he picked her up and threw her down, telling her she needed to die. The police surrounded the house where he was keeping them and got the children back. The courts finally (after 9 months of emotional abuse), found him unfit. The divorce decree granted me sole legal and physical custody. He was convicted on over 20 counts of violating the restraining order. Seven months after his conviction, I moved the kids to Texas. I have no family or connection here and felt that was the best way to keep us all safe. The divorce decree does say that I was suppose to notify a particular therapist if I moved (which I did not) and that he could go to that therapist if he chose to and she alone would decide if he could ever see the kids. In eight years, I have never heard anything. My children thoroughly dislike there last name because of the memories it evokes; even more so now that I am remarried, taking my husbands last name, and they love their step-father. They would like for us to all have the same name. My fear, however, is him finding us.

Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 3 years ago.
Yes, you can file for the change of names here. Here is a form that you can use. You can copy the text into a word processing program and make the applicable changes. Note: both of the children are going to have to sign the consent form at the bottom of the form.

In paragraph 4 of the form, at the end you can state that "Minor's biological parents were divorced on MM/DD/YYYY, and mother retains sole legal and physical custody of children. Father has not consented to this name change. Citation and service is requested via certified mail upon father at his address or where ever he may be found."

You will file this with the county clerk in the county where the children live. When you file, you will have to pay the associated fee, as well as citation and certified mail service fees. Make sure that you ask about these.

If the certified mail return slip comes back signed, then you can get a hearing on the petition. If it is not signed for, then you can request of the court to allow citation by publication (in a newspaper) because the other citation failed.

Once this is done, you can get a hearing on the petition, and at the hearing the judge is going to want to hear the reasons for changing the name (this will be listed on the petition as well). A court may (at its discretion) order the name change if it is in the best interests of the child.

Here is the law:

§ 45.001. WHO MAY FILE; VENUE. A parent, managing conservator, or guardian of a child may file a petition requesting a change of name of the child in the county where the child resides.

§ 45.002. REQUIREMENTS OF PETITION. (a) A petition to change the name of a child must be verified and include:
(1) the present name and place of residence of the child;
(2) the reason a change of name is requested;
(3) the full name requested for the child;
(4) whether the child is subject to the continuing exclusive jurisdiction of a court under Chapter 155; and
(5) whether the child is subject to the registration requirements of Chapter 62, Code of Criminal Procedure.
b) If the child is 10 years of age or older, the child's written consent to the change of name must be attached to the petition.

§ 45.003. CITATION. (a) The following persons are entitled to citation in a suit under this sub chapter:
(1) a parent of the child whose parental rights have not been terminated;
(2) any managing conservator of the child; and
(3) any guardian of the child.
(b) Citation must be issued and served in the same manner as under Chapter 102.

If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please select the "accept" button. If you have already clicked "accept", or if you will in the future, please let me know so I can track these for my own reports and customer satisfaction stats. Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX good luck to you!
ScottyMacEsq, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 11295
Experience: Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
ScottyMacEsq and 7 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Couple of quick questions filling out the forms:

 

- List child as second petitioner?

- Do we fill out the petition and the consent form, or is the consent form just if I had the biological father's consent and he would fill out?

 

Thank you!

Miranda

Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 3 years ago.
No, you are the petitioner, as sole legal conservator of the children. The child needs to be the one on the consent form. Now if the father were to consent, he could fill out an additional consent form for each of the children, but the consent form is for the children.

Hope that helps. Good luck to you!
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you so much!

 

Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 3 years ago.
My pleasure. Again, good luck!
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Scotty,

 

So sorry to bother you yet again, and I'm happy to pay another fee; but after taking some time to consider this further, I'm wondering if termination and adoption is a better, or even possible route to take.

 

Thank you,

Miranda

Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 3 years ago.
Termination is a much more involved process, to tell the truth. The reason is that judges place a much higher evidentiary burden on involuntary termination (i.e. without the consent of the other parent whose rights are being terminated). Parental rights are viewed as near sacred in the state of Texas, and so one of the following has to be found by the court, by clear and convincing evidence (the evidentiary standard between preponderance of the evidence and beyond a reasonable doubt)...


Sec. 161.001. INVOLUNTARY TERMINATION OF PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP. The court may order termination of the parent-child relationship if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence:

(1) that the parent has:

(A) voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of another not the parent and expressed an intent not to return;

(B) voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of another not the parent without expressing an intent to return, without providing for the adequate support of the child, and remained away for a period of at least three months;

(C) voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of another without providing adequate support of the child and remained away for a period of at least six months;

(D) knowingly placed or knowingly allowed the child to remain in conditions or surroundings which endanger the physical or emotional well-being of the child;

(E) engaged in conduct or knowingly placed the child with persons who engaged in conduct which endangers the physical or emotional well-being of the child;

(F) failed to support the child in accordance with the parent's ability during a period of one year ending within six months of the date of the filing of the petition;

(G) abandoned the child without identifying the child or furnishing means of identification, and the child's identity cannot be ascertained by the exercise of reasonable diligence;

(H) voluntarily, and with knowledge of the pregnancy, abandoned the mother of the child beginning at a time during her pregnancy with the child and continuing through the birth, failed to provide adequate support or medical care for the mother during the period of abandonment before the birth of the child, and remained apart from the child or failed to support the child since the birth;

(I) contumaciously refused to submit to a reasonable and lawful order of a court under Subchapter D, Chapter 261;

(J) been the major cause of:

(i) the failure of the child to be enrolled in school as required by the Education Code; or

(ii) the child's absence from the child's home without the consent of the parents or guardian for a substantial length of time or without the intent to return;

(K) executed before or after the suit is filed an unrevoked or irrevocable affidavit of relinquishment of parental rights as provided by this chapter;

(L) been convicted or has been placed on community supervision, including deferred adjudication community supervision, for being criminally responsible for the death or serious injury of a child under the following sections of the Penal Code or adjudicated under Title 3 for conduct that caused the death or serious injury of a child and that would constitute a violation of one of the following Penal Code sections:

(i) Section 19.02 (murder);

(ii) Section 19.03 (capital murder);

(iii) Section 19.04 (manslaughter);

(iv) Section 21.11 (indecency with a child);

(v) Section 22.01 (assault);

(vi) Section 22.011 (sexual assault);

(vii) Section 22.02 (aggravated assault);

(viii) Section 22.021 (aggravated sexual assault);

(ix) Section 22.04 (injury to a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual);

(x) Section 22.041 (abandoning or endangering child);

(xi) Section 25.02 (prohibited sexual conduct);

(xii) Section 43.25 (sexual performance by a child);

(xiii) Section 43.26 (possession or promotion of child pornography); and

(xiv) Section 21.02 (continuous sexual abuse of young child or children);

(M) had his or her parent-child relationship terminated with respect to another child based on a finding that the parent's conduct was in violation of Paragraph (D) or (E) or substantially equivalent provisions of the law of another state;

(N) constructively abandoned the child who has been in the permanent or temporary managing conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services or an authorized agency for not less than six months, and:

(i) the department or authorized agency has made reasonable efforts to return the child to the parent;

(ii) the parent has not regularly visited or maintained significant contact with the child; and

(iii) the parent has demonstrated an inability to provide the child with a safe environment;

(O) failed to comply with the provisions of a court order that specifically established the actions necessary for the parent to obtain the return of the child who has been in the permanent or temporary managing conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services for not less than nine months as a result of the child's removal from the parent under Chapter 262 for the abuse or neglect of the child;

(P) used a controlled substance, as defined by Chapter 481, Health and Safety Code, in a manner that endangered the health or safety of the child, and:

(i) failed to complete a court-ordered substance abuse treatment program; or

(ii) after completion of a court-ordered substance abuse treatment program, continued to abuse a controlled substance;

(Q) knowingly engaged in criminal conduct that has resulted in the parent's:

(i) conviction of an offense; and

(ii) confinement or imprisonment and inability to care for the child for not less than two years from the date of filing the petition;

(R) been the cause of the child being born addicted to alcohol or a controlled substance, other than a controlled substance legally obtained by prescription, as defined by Section 261.001;

(S) voluntarily delivered the child to a designated emergency infant care provider under Section 262.302 without expressing an intent to return for the child; or

(T) been convicted of:

(i) the murder of the other parent of the child under Section 19.02 or 19.03, Penal Code, or under a law of another state, federal law, the law of a foreign country, or the Uniform Code of Military Justice that contains elements that are substantially similar to the elements of an offense under Section 19.02 or 19.03, Penal Code;

(ii) criminal attempt under Section 15.01, Penal Code, or under a law of another state, federal law, the law of a foreign country, or the Uniform Code of Military Justice that contains elements that are substantially similar to the elements of an offense under Section 15.01, Penal Code, to commit the offense described by Subparagraph (i); or

(iii) criminal solicitation under Section 15.03, Penal Code, or under a law of another state, federal law, the law of a foreign country, or the Uniform Code of Military Justice that contains elements that are substantially similar to the elements of an offense under Section 15.03, Penal Code, of the offense described by Subparagraph (i); and

(2) that termination is in the best interest of the child.

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