A Guide to Using a Stepparent's Surname on a Minor's Passport
Applying for a minor's passport is more difficult than getting your own
as an adult, because there are extra layers protecting the rights of
minors. More documents need to be provided like proof of parental
relationship. In the easiest circumstances both parents are together
and can easily provide all documents necessary, but this is not always
the case, and blended family or other special circumstances can make
things more difficult. This is especially true for stepparents who want
the child to have their surname. There has been an influx of requests
for this type of name change in recent years, so it's important to know
the challenges the natural parent and stepparent may face.
Why It Is Important to Provide Evidence for the Surname Change
Firstly, it's extremely important when applying for a stepparent
surname change of a minor that you can prove the child has been using
the stepparent's surname legally either due to a court ordered name change
, or through the sole use of the name
for five years. The reason this needs to be established is for the
safety of the minor and protection of the natural parents. When a
request is put in by only one natural parent for the minor to have the
stepparent's surname listed on a passport, it may solicit an inquiry
from the other natural parent or even from Congressional offices
wanting the documentation used as evidence for the name change.
Two Ways You Can Change the Surname of Your Stepchild
The U.S. passport agency will grant this request if one of the
following conditions is met. One is if the natural parent and
stepparent can produce documentary evidence that the minor has
exclusively used said surname for at least five years. This can be
proven with documents such as school or medical records. The other is
if both natural parents give written consent in the form of a notarized
affidavit allowing the stepparent to handle the child's passport
application, or sign their application to identify the child.
If written consent cannot be established by both natural parents
because one is deceased, the living natural parent must provide a copy
of the death certificate of the absent natural parent. In some cases
both of the minor's parents are deceased; under these circumstances the
stepparent requesting the surname change must provide proof of
guardianship as well as court ordered name change documents. If in any
of these circumstances the conditions are not met and proper proof is
not shown the request will be denied.
Alternative to Changing Stepchild's Surname on a Passport
If your request for changing the minor's surname to the stepparent's is denied, you may be able to have the surname included as "known as" in the passport
You will still need to provide documentary evidence establishing the
use of the surname for the child in question. This can be done using
affidavits from the stepparent and natural parent as well as at least
two public documents like medical and school records proving the use of
the surname. Applying for the use of a stepparent's surname can be
tricky and each case's circumstances will be different, so be sure to
contact the nearest U.S. Passport Agency or accredited and registered passport expeditor
to guide you on your best course of action.
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