NAME CHANGE (Minor)
The guide is meant to help someone who is not represented by a lawyer understand the general rules and procedures of a civil court case in Louisiana. It is not a complete guide to the law nor does it discuss every issue or aspect of the law that may affect your case.
This information is not meant to replace State laws or Court Rules. The purpose of this guide is to give general information and make it easier to represent yourself in court. You have a right to represent yourself in court, but it comes with the responsibility to follow certain court rules and procedures.
The guide will help you change the name of someone under the age of 18 by:
Answering questions on how to change a minor child's name in the "Frequently Asked Questions" section below;
Providing forms for you to change a minor child's name in the "Forms Available" section;
Explaining the steps for changing a name in the "Instructions" section attached to the form;
Giving you more information about how to proceed with your case while delaying court fees in the "Related Articles" section; and
Helping you find a lawyer in the "Community Resources" section.
*In order to file with the Clerk of Court, forms must be printed out and filled in completely. If you are unable to do this, or do not have access to a printer, you can visit your local library for assistance. For more assistance locating a library, click here.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT
CHANGING A MINOR'S NAME IN LOUISIANA
1. What is the definition of a minor?
In Louisiana, the state of majority is 18 years old and a minor is anyone under 18 years old. If you are over 18 and wishing to change your name, click here.
2. Who can request to have a minor’s name changed in Louisiana?
Parents and "tutors" can file a petition for the name change of a minor. The minor and the individual filing the petition on behalf of the minor must be residents of the state of Louisiana. Residency is established based on the residence of the parent(s) of the minor.
In addition, a tutor can seek to have a minor’s name changed. A tutor is a person who has been lawfully appointed to act as guardian for the minor. In Louisiana, the tutor is responsible for all of the personal and legal concerns of the minor until they reach the age of majority.
3. Where do I go to have a minor’s name changed in Louisiana?
There are three locations where a person may go to petition a court for a minor’s name change. You must go to the district court of one of the following:
1. The parish of the minor’s residence,
2. The parish of the minor’s birth (if the minor was born in the state of Louisiana), or
3. The parish of venue for the Vital Records Registry (located in the Orleans Parish)
4. What if the child’s other parent/guardian (curator) is not present, or does not agree to
change the child’s name?
Both the father and mother of the minor must sign the petition for a name change, or the surviving parent in the case one parent is deceased. If both parents are deceased, the minor’s tutor must sign the petition.
However, if one parent has been granted custody of the minor by the court, the signature of the other parent is not necessary if one of the following circumstances exists:
1. The other parent has refused or failed to provide court ordered support for at least one year;
2. The other parent has failed to support the minor for at least three years after custody was awarded; or
3. The other parent failed to support, visit, communicate or attempted to communicate with the minor without just cause for at least two years.
If one of these circumstances exists, the parent filing the petition must serve the other parent with a copy of the petition and may need to present evidence to the Court.
5. Do I need a reason to change a minor’s name?
The state of Louisiana does not specify when or how often you may file a petition for a minor’s name change. However, the judge reserves the right to reject a petition of a minor’s name change after reviewing the petition before the court.
6. Can I change a minor’s name to anything I choose?
The court reserves the right to deny any petition for a minor’s name change. Also, a name change can be denied if the reason for the change is related to avoiding debts or sentences relating to a crime or for similar ulterior motives.
7. Once the name change is granted, how do I change a minor’s government-issued documents?
If your petition is approved and you have a valid driver’s license, take the document along with your current driver’s license and proof of auto insurance to the local office of the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles. Ask to have your name changed on your driver’s license. You may be required to take a vision test. If you are a minor, a parent or legal guardian must accompany you to the motor vehicles office. There is a fee for this service. For government-issued documents, you should contact the agency which issued the document to inquire about revisions.
If you want to change the name on a minor’s original birth certificate from the state of Louisiana, you must send a certified copy of the final judgment to the Vital Statistics office along with an Application to Amend Certificate of Birth and the appropriate fee. As of April 2011, the fee for processing the application was $18 with an additional $9 fee for a copy of the new birth certificate. These fees are subject to change. To obtain the Application to Amend Certificate of Birth contact:
Louisiana Vital Records Registry
Attn: Document Alteration Section
P.O. Box 60630
New Orleans, LA 70160
8. Where should I file the petition to change a name?
The 14th Judicial District Court Clerk of Court's office is located at 1000 Ryan Street in Lake Charles. The offices are open 8:30am-4:30pm. For more information, including fees, you can call (337) 437-3550. Please note that the Clerk of Court does not “notarize” documents, and you may need to visit a Notary Public beforehand.
9. What if I cannot afford to pay the filing fee?
Article 5181 of the Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure provides: “an individual who is unable to pay the costs of court because of his poverty and lack of means may prosecute or defend a judicial proceeding in any trial or appellate court without paying the costs in advance or as they accrue or furnishing security therefore.”
If you cannot afford the filing fee, then you can file an affidavit with the court to proceed in forma pauperis (IFP). Not only must you swear and prove to the court that you cannot afford to pay the filing fees, but you will also need a witness who knows you to swear to the court that you can’t afford to pay the filing fees.
The Louisiana Supreme Court provides an IFP affidavit for use in the district courts. If allowed to proceed IFP, you will not have to pay the filing fees in advance. The fees will be assessed by the judge at the end of the case though, and if you lose your case the court may assess the fees to you.
NOTE THAT AN APPROVED IFP APPLICATION DOES NOT MEAN YOU WILL NEVER HAVE TO PAY THE FEES.
An approved IFP application means that your case can move forward before you pay the fees, but that you will still have to pay them at a later date.If you have little or no income, it is likely that you qualify for either a no-fee or low-fee attorney from one of the legal aid organizations in the state. Please click here for more information.