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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2009

    Default Name Change of Minor Without Notice or Consent by Other Parent

    My question involves name change laws in the State of: Virginia

    I had posted last year (9/27/10) about my nephew's name possibly being changed. I was going to go back to that original post but it has been closed. To summarize what originally happened:

    My nephew's mother died when he was 11 and he had to go live with his father (with whom he had very limited contact his whole life). Nephew is now almost 14.

    Right before last school years started (Aug 2010), nephews father informed him that his middle and last name had been changed. However, his school records, doctors records, etc were never changed and he continued to go by his "original" name. Nephew was never given anything more than a verbal acknowledgement that this name change had occured. (His last name was his mother's maiden name and his middle name was his maternal grand fathers middle name. The name was supposedly changed to the father's last name and his paternal grandfather's middle name).

    I had originally posted on here asking how I could find out for my nephew if his name had in fact been changed. I researched the local court in the county that he lived in and they had no record of a name change.

    Over the course of the year, the name change was never mentioned again by his father and his "original" name was used for anything that he was involved in. Everyone pretty much dismissed the idea that the name was changed and that the father did that just to "mess" with him becuase there had been a falling out with the mother's side of the family.

    Currently where we stand is that the father has now moved out of state. The father gave my husband and I joint legal and primary physical custody of the child. Nephew moved in with us in June and custody was finalized late August. Father handled all custody through attorney and mediator and didn't come back to Va at all. He has voluntarily had no contact with his child since June 1 (not even to say goodbye when he moved). He has all of our contact information and is welcome to call at any time. We on the other hand have a harder time getting in touch with them. We have a temporary address for them which was used to mail custody papers back and forth and we have one cell phone number which in all honsety could very well be disconnected at this point.

    All the custody court papers were drawn up using the child's "original name". We have enrolled him in school using his "original" name. Nothing was ever said to us by the father about this childs name being changed. I went to the local Social Security office last week to get a copy of his social security card and to make sure that the child's social security benefits (that he gets from his mother's death) are sent to our address (father has been collecting the money even though he has moved across the country and has not provided any financial support to us). When I was there, Social Security informed me that the childs name had in fact been changed in February 2010. I was pretty shocked. I asked them to provide me with whatever documents they would have been given to prove the name change. They said that they don't keep copies or even notes in the system to show what was given (not sure I buy that) but it would have been an amended birth certificate or a court order. I know the birth certificate has not been changed because I had just gotten a copy of his from the Dept of Vital Records to enroll him in school. I have checked with all local courts and none of them have record of a name change.

    Here are my questions:
    1. How do I find out if his name has really been legally changed. I can't find any documenation to support it other than it being changed in the Soc. Security computer; but they don't have any true evidence to support the change other than "we wouldn't have put it in the computer without a legal document; but don't actually keep said legal document). I also can't rely on the father. For one, he already signed legal documents with the child's original name and not the new name. So, he's already lied to the courts (at least I'm assuming this is a version of lying).

    2. If his name has been changed, he wants to change it back ASAP. He has never been known by this new name. All of his medical records, school records, etc have been with his original name. Also, why would he want to use the last name of the person that never wanted him as a child, took him in for 2 years just to get Soc Sec money, and then moved thousand of miles away without sayinng goodbye. Given that he's 14, I think that he should have some say so in this (Yes, I know that the courts could care less what he thinks/wants/feels because he's a minor). Given the fact that we have custody, could we petition the court for his name change. Would the father also have to agree to this? If he disagrees could we still argue the case to the judge and let him decide?

    3. If we can't find any legal proof that the name was changed (which is proving very difficult to find), could we still petition the court for a name change just to be certain of what his name is and to make sure it changed back with Soc Sec?

    4. I'm pretty sure we need a lawyer for this. I told the lawyer that helped us with the custody agreement about this. I am hoping that he can help us, but its been over a week and I haven't heard from him yet. Is a custody/family lawyer the right one to use or do I need one who specializes in another field? I'm also a little concerned about identity theft and want to make all bases are covered.

    If appreciate any advice/help (I also appreciate anyone who reads this "novel").

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: Name Change of Minor

    When you asked the father what court he used when he petitioned for a name change, he told you what? I suppose you can go through every county in your state (assuming that you can narrow things down to your state), perhaps starting in those counties where the father has resided, but obviously it's going to be easiest if he simply tells you.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009

    Default Re: Name Change of Minor

    Oh if we could just count on the father telling us, that would be wonderful. Unfortunately, when he moved in July we were given one cell phone number to use in order to contact them. Ever since the custody has been worked out, he has been pretty much MIA. I asked his family if they knew how to get in touch with them and found out that he left without even telling them he was leaving. So, the phone number and address we have is more than what they have (and I'm not sure if those are any good right now and its not like we can just drive by their house). Even if we did hear from him, I'm not so sure that he would tell us the truth, given that he went through the whole custody process without saying a word. I have checked in all the surrounding counties in our area with no luck with any of them. It would be really nice if there was one master court database in Virginia that you could go to. One of the courts suggested that the department of vital records may have some information, but I haven't been able to get them on the phone and it would be a day trip for me to get there in person and I haven't had time during the work week to do that yet. Given that the birth certificate wasn't changed, I'm not sure if they would be much help either. Personally, it still doesn't make sense to me that Social Security wouldn't have something documented in their system to at least indicate which court the name was changed in. If they don't keep paper documents that's fine but you would think it would in the computer system somehwere.

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