Thank you for your question. After reading my answer, please do not hesitate to reply if you have additional questions or need more information.
I apologize for the delay in responding, I was looking for forms to assist you. In order for your daughter to be able to change her name, you will have to petition the court to allow the name change. As she is still considered a minor at 17, you will have to petition the court on her behalf. Additionally, both you and the child's father must consent, or in the alternative, he is still entitled to notice of the proposed name change and allowed the opportunity to object. I understand that he hasn't been involved in her life, but unless his parental rights have been terminated, the law allows him the right to notice.
he following steps are required to change the name of a minor in Texas:
- File a Petition on behalf of the minor
- Notify any parent, managing conservator, or guardian of the name change minor
- Attend a name change hearing
- File an Order granting name change
First, print and fill out the Petition, Verification, and Order. If all parents, managing conservators, and guardians agree on the name change, then each parent, conservator, and guardian should fill out their own Verification and sign the Petition. All Verifications must be signed in front of a Notary Public. The Notary will verify your identity and sign their name to verify that you signed the document in front of them. Since your child is over the age of 10, they must fill out a consent form confirming that they want their name to change. This form is included in the link above. Note that those forms are for a different county --I couldn't find specific forms online for Harris County, but you can either change the forms to say Harris County, or try these forms (cost is $40). You could also check with the Clerk of Court in Harris County to see if they have the forms to purchase.
After you complete the forms, you need to file the original and two copies of the Petition, Verifications, and Child Consent with the Clerk of Court's office for the District Court of Harris County. Have the Clerk return a stamped copy of the documents to you and set a date for your name change hearing.
After your Petition has been filed, ask the Clerk's office to schedule a name change hearing and issue a citation. The Clerk should be able to give you at least two copies of the citation. Once you know the hearing date and time, you must send the citation with the date and time of the hearing to the other parent if they did not sign the Petition and Verification.
These citations must be formally served. There are three methods of formally serving in Texas:
- Request a formal Process Server through the Sheriff or Constable's office and receive a verification of personal service. By this method, the individual will be served in person. You are not allowed to serve the document yourself. There will be a fee to hire a Process Server, usually somewhere between $25-$50.
- Send a copy of the citation by certified mail. The individual being served must sign his own name on the receipt and you must obtain a copy. Fill out a verification of service by certified mail and attach a copy of the certified receipt with the signature of the person served.
- Publish a copy of the citation in a local paper. If you cannot find a parent, you can send the citation to a local paper of general circulation and have the citation published at least one time.
Next, you will need to file the proofs of service with your file at the Clerk's office. Take them to the Clerk's office the same way you did the Petition and file them.
At the hearing, the judge will ask questions of you and your child, basically to know why they want the name change, etc. It's a short hearing, typically maybe 15 minutes. If the father contests the matter and shows up, he will be given an opportunity to say why he objects. The judge will decide whether or not the name change is in the best interest of the child and the public. If he agrees, he will sign the Order. Make sure you get certified copies of the Order from the Clerk of Court, as that is what you will need to change your daughter's social security and other information.
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