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Juvenile Issues

Introduction

Changing the name of a minor can only be accomplished by the parent or legal guardian of the child. If the purpose of the name change is to simply alter a minor spelling mistake, a request to change the name can be made directly with the Arkansas Department of Health. However, changing a child’s name for any other reason will require an order issued by an Arkansas court.

Step 1: Petition for Name Change

Arkansas law requires a child’s parent or guardian to submit a written petition to a local Circuit Court Clerk’s Office. This will be used to notify a judge of the child’s current name as well as the name that he or she will further be known as. The petition should state the following:

  • Name of the parent/guardian
  • Child’s county of residence
  • Parent/Guardian’s relationship to child
  • Reason for changing name
  • Written consent of the other parent/guardian
  • Statement indicating that the name is not being altered for fraudulent reasons
  • Contact information
  • Whether or not the parent/guardian is being represented by a lawyer

Step 2: Parental Consent

It is imperative that both parents consent to having the child’s name be changed. If a legal guardian is requesting a change to their child’s name, they must still obtain consent from the child’s parents or show proof to the courts that an attempt to obtain consent was made.

Record the parental consent by having the individual complete a Consent to Change Name form. The form must also be notarized, therefore the parent will need to provide their signature in front of a Notary Public before the document is deemed legal.

If one parent will not agree to have a child's name changed, the other parent can file papers to request the change. The non-consenting parent must be served with copies of the name change papers and given a chance to object. If this is the case, fill out “Proof of Service by Certified Mail” A judge may or may not grant a child’s name change without the other parent's consent.

Step 3: Order for Name Change

An Order for Name Change is a document which will be presented to the judge along with the name change petition and the notarized consent. 

Download the Order for Name Change template and fill in all fields except for the spaces designated for the circuit judge.

Step 4: Submit Forms to Circuit Court's Office

Before filing your paperwork, make several copies of each form for your own personal records. Next, take all original documents and photocopies to a local Circuit Court Clerk’s Office to file them with the Clerk. Submit your original forms to the Clerk and supply the filing fee (call the Clerk ahead of time to find out the exact amount). After payment has been accepted, ask the Clerk to stamp the photocopied forms so that they may be authenticated and used for future use if necessary.

Step 5: Attend Hearing

It is likely that you will need to attend a court hearing to complete the name change process. The Clerk to whom your forms were submitted will schedule a date and time for your hearing. Attend the hearing to settle any issues and also to finalize the process.