Ask the County Law Librarian – Must Father Still be Served When Name Not on Birth Certificate & No One Knows Where He Is?
Q. I would like to change my daughter’s middle name. She is two months old. I am the only listed parent on her birth certificate and there is no paternity on file anywhere. How do I change her middle name without the other parent’s consent or having to be served, since his whereabouts are unknown and there is no established parentage?
A. Unfortunately, in order to change your daughter’s middle name you will have to serve her father, whether or not parentage has been established. Two parents’ signatures must appear on the paperwork to change a minor’s name. If you cannot serve your daughter’s father because you cannot find him, you must submit a declaration to the court, detailing all attempts made to locate him.
Do not despair, however! A sample declaration is included in our Step-by-Step Guide on “How to Change Your Name,” available for free on our website, at http://www.saclaw.org/pages/name-change.aspx. This Guide includes sample forms and instructions for preparing, copying, assembling, and serving the forms involved in a civil name change. It also includes a list of newspapers of general circulation, annotated with contact and fee information, to help you choose a newspaper in which to publish your court-stamped Order to Show Cause for Change of Name for four consecutive weeks. This Step-by-Step Guide also includes sample forms and instructions for requesting a waiver of the currently $435 filing fee.
For tips on locating the absent parent, see our "Finding People & Businesses" guide, available on our website at http://www.saclaw.org/pages/finding-people.aspx.
If you need further assistance completing the papers, the Sacramento County Public Law Library’s Civil Self Help Center holds a Name Change Workshop every Monday from 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. A video of that workshop is available on our website at http://www.saclaw.org/pages/selfhelp_video.aspx. Both the live workshop and the video workshop are free of charge.
Good luck to both you and your daughter, Julie!