Have you ever wanted to change your name at any point in your life? Parents, have you ever felt like any of your kids never really "fit" the name you gave them at birth?

It may surprise you that it's not uncommon for parents to want to change a child's name for various reasons, such as preferring another name or feeling that a different name would better suit the child. Sometimes, a simpler name might be desired if the child's current name is hard to spell or pronounce. This curiosity led me to look into the laws regarding name changes here in Louisiana, and I discovered some intriguing details, to say the least.

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I can't remember where I heard it, but someone once told me, albeit unconfirmed, that a parent has 12 months (1 calendar year) from the date on the birth certificate to change a baby’s name without needing a court order. That sounded a bit off to me, so here I am, diving like Uncle Scrooge McDuck into the Louisiana Department of Health's website. To my surprise, I found that my initial thought of 12 months being too generous was nothing compared to the ACTUAL law in Louisiana.

The more I told people (including parents) about this, the more I realized that people weren't aware of the actual time limits on changing a child's name in Louisiana, specifically without a necessary court order.

In Louisiana, parents wishing to change their child's name should know specific legal procedures and time frames. Here's a comprehensive overview to clarify the process and timelines involved, depending on the child's age and which names desire to be changed.

Changing a Child's First or Middle Name

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Parents can change their child's first or middle name on the birth certificate without a court order until the child reaches 12 years old. This process requires both parents listed on the birth certificate to sign an Affidavit for Correction of Given Names in the presence of a licensed notary. This form is submitted to the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH).

Changing a Child's Last Name

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Changing a child's last name, however, necessitates a court order, regardless of the child's age. The process involves filing a name change petition with the court, usually requiring the consent of both parents. If one parent does not consent, the other parent must demonstrate that they have attempted to notify the non-consenting parent about the petition. The final decision rests with the judge, who considers factors such as the child's preference, the duration they have used their current name, and potential issues like embarrassment or harassment the name might cause.

Correcting Minor Errors on a Birth Certificate

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For minor errors such as spelling mistakes, typographical errors, or incorrect details regarding the child's or parents' names, sex, or birth date, the process varies slightly depending on the child's age:

- Newborns (within 90 days of birth): Parents can correct minor errors at no charge by submitting an Application to Amend and the incorrect birth certificate to Vital Records. The hospital where the child was born will be notified to verify the correct information.

- Children up to 12 years old: Errors can be corrected with a statement from the medical records department at the facility where the child was born. If the facility no longer has the records, parents must provide other evidentiary documents, such as a baptismal certificate, school record, or a Social Security Numident printout.

Adding a Name Not Listed on the Birth Certificate

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If a child was not named at birth, parents can use an Affidavit for Correction of Given Names to provide a first and middle name before the child turns 12. Both parents must sign this affidavit in the presence of a licensed notary.

Changing the Last Name from Birth to Age 17

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To add a father's name and change the child's last name, parents can complete an Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit. Alternatively, a court-ordered name change judgment must be obtained. The judgment, along with the petition and the district attorney’s answer, if applicable, must be submitted to Vital Records.

For more detailed information, visit the Louisiana Department of Health's website at LDH.La.gov. Understanding these guidelines can help ensure the name change process is smooth and compliant with Louisiana laws.

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