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Changing a Child's Birth Certificate After a Divorce

Authored By: Iowa Legal Aid LSC Funded
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If your divorce decree changes your child’s name, you will need to take steps to change the child’s name on his or her birth certificate as well. Once you have changed his or her name on the birth certificate, you will need to take steps to change the name on the social security card (if a social security number has been issued) and on any other documents or accounts the child has. This article will step you through the process of changing names on an Iowa birth certificate. Of course, if the child was not born in Iowa, you will need to contact the state where the child was born to determine the steps you need to take.

Letter and Supporting Documents: Either parent can request that the child’s name be changed by taking the following steps.  You will need to send a notarized letter asking for your child’s name to be changed to the Iowa Department of Public Health. The letter needs to include the following information:

  • Child’s name on current birth certificate:  first, middle, last, suffix (if any, such as Jr., II)
  • Sex of child: male or female
  • Child’s birth date: month, day, year
  • Child’s place of birth: city, county, and state
  • Child’s name on birth certificate after legal change of name granted:  first, middle, last, suffix (if any)

The letter must be signed by you, and your signature must be notarized (you can often find a notary at your bank). Send the letter, along with a certified copy of the decree that contains the court’s seal stamped on it (discussed below), a copy of your photo identification, and payment (discussed below) to:

Iowa Department of Public Health
Vital Records
Attention: Lisa
321 E 12th street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319

Certified Copy:  You can obtain a certified copy of the divorce decree at the clerk’s office in the courthouse where your decree was filed. This copy has the court’s seal stamped on it. It will likely cost $21.50 plus copying costs (approximately 50 cents per page).

Fee: It will cost $15 to process the name change for each child’s birth certificate and $15 for a copy of each new birth certificate (total of $30 per child).

NOTE: If the child’s birth certificate did not include the name of the child’s father (meaning it was left blank on the certificate), then the child’s father’s name can be added and the child’s name can be changed at the same time for free. Take the same steps above, but explain that the original birth certificate did not include a name for the child’s father and that the father’s name should be added. Include the father’s full name, date of birth, and place of birth (city, state, country) in the letter.  No processing fee for the birth certificate is due, but the fee for each copy of the birth certificate requested needs to be included with the letter. Either parent can request this change.

Last review 3/8/13

Last Review and Update: Mar 08, 2013
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