Guide for guardians changing a child's name

If you are the child’s guardian and want to change their name, you start by filing a Petition for Change of Name (form NC-100) and other forms. You will then get a court date. You will need to have a notice about the court date published in a local newspaper and also delivered to the child's living parents. If the child's parents do not agree, they have the right to oppose your request. If either or both parents is deceased or cannot be found, you will have to let any living grandparents know instead.


If the judge approves your request, you will get a court order called a "decree" changing the child's name. The court process can take up to 3 months, though in busier courts it may take longer.

Before you start 

You need the name of a newspaper to publish your request in

Generally, for a name change, you must publish your request in the notices section of a newspaper. You must publish in a newspaper of general circulation that publishes legal notices in the county where you file your case (where the child lives). Ask the court where you will file your case if they have a list of newspapers you can choose from.

Contact the newspapers to find out the cost. The cost to publish can vary a lot. Call several papers to find out the cost and what works best for you. If you change your mind later and want to change newspapers, you will have to re-do your forms and may need to postpone your court date.

How to ask to change a child's name

  • Fill out court forms

    Fill out these forms:

    • Petition for Change of Name (form NC-100)
    • Name and Information about the Person Whose Name is to be Changed (form NC-110) (attach to the NC-100)
    • Supplemental Attachment to Petition for Change of Name (Declaration of Guardian) (form NC-110G) (attach to the NC-100)
    • Order to Show CauseChange of Name (form NC-120) (the clerk will write in a court date)
    • Civil Case Cover Sheet (form CM-010)
    • Decree Changing Name of Minor (By Guardian) (form NC-130G) (fill out the top part)
    If the child is in State WitnessProgram or the address confidentiality program, your request may be kept confidential. Learn more
    Information Sheet for Name Change Proceedings Under Address Confidentiality Program (Safe at Home) (form NC-400-INFO) has instructions on how to keep a request confidential. If you are not sure what to do, talk to a lawyer or your court's self-help center
  • Check for local forms

    Some courts also require you to fill out local forms to ask for a name change. Ask your local court clerk if there are local forms you have to fill out. You may be able to find local court forms on your superior court's website.

  • Have forms reviewed

    If your court’s Self-Help Center helps people with name change cases, ask them to review your paperwork. They can make sure you filled it out properly before you move ahead with your case.

  • Make copies of all your forms

    The court will keep the original. One copy will be for you. One copy will go to each of the child's parents, or grandparents if required. You will need another copy to publish it in the newspaper (unless you're not required to publish in your case. Read more about that in Step 7).

  • File copies with the court clerk

    File all your forms with the copies in the court in the county where the child lives. The clerk will stamp your forms with “Filed,” keep the original and return the copies to you. The Order to Show Cause will have information on your court date, time, and department number. 

    You will have to pay a filing fee of $435-$450. If you cannot afford the fee, you can ask for a fee waiver.

  • Serve parents or grandparents of the child

    Serve the child’s parents with a copy of the paperwork at least 30 days before the court date. If either or both parents of the child are deceased or cannot be located, you must serve notice of the hearing on the grandparents, if living, at least 30 days before the court date.

    You need someone 18 or older, not you, to give each parent or grandparent a copy of the filed Petition, along with attachments, and the Order to Show Cause Change of Name (form NC-120).

    The server has to fill out a Proof of Service of Order to Show Cause (Change of Name) (form NC-121) for each parent or grandparent served and give them to you. You have to file these proofs of service before your court hearing.

    • If the parents or grandparents live in California, you must have someone serve them in person.
    • If a parent or grandparent lives outside California, you can serve the out-of-state parent by certified mail, return receipt requested. But, remember, you cannot mail the papers yourself.
  • Publish the order to show cause for change of name (if required)

    Generally, you must publish the Order to Show CauseChange of Name (form NC-120) in a newspaper of general circulation once a week for 4 weeks in a row. Your court most likely has a list of newspapers that are approved for publishing legal notices.  

    The cost for publication can vary greatly between newspapers and your court fee waiver will not waive your publication fees. So it is very important that you check the price of publishing before you put the name of the newspaper in the Order to Show Cause. This is because once the judge signs the Order to Show Cause you must publish in the newspaper listed on the form. You cannot change the form after it is signed by the judge.

    If the child is in the State Witness Program or address confidentiality program, you may not need to publish the Order to Show Cause. You can find out more in Information Sheet for Name Change Proceedings Under Address Confidentiality Program (Safe at Home) (form NC-400-INFO). If you are not sure what to do, talk to a lawyer or your court's Self-Help Center.
  • Go to your court hearing

    Go to court on your hearing date and take the proof of publication from the newspaper along with the Decree Changing Name (By Guardian) (form NC-130G) for the judge to sign. Make sure you also take both proofs of service showing the parents each got a copy of the papers.

  • Get your decree

    If the judge approves your request for a change of name, the judge will sign the Decree Changing Name (By Guardian) (form NC-130G). Once you get your signed decree, get at least 1 certified copy from the court clerk. You will need this to change the child’s birth certificate, social security card, and other papers like a passport. Get more information about where to update identity documents.

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