Child Adoption Name Change in Virginia
Changing the name of a child is not a substitute for an adoption. No rights accrue to a child just because his or her last name may have been changed to that of a step-father. Some people think that a name change is a cheap means to accomplish the same end. Nothing could be further from the truth. If an adoption is contemplated, it is better to do that without the intermediate step of a name change.
An Adoption Name Change Gone Wrong Case Study
We know of several cases which illustrate the above principle. In each case, the birth mother and step-father really wanted the step-father to adopt the child, but adoption was put on hold “for the time being” because it was perceived as too expensive. They pursued a simple name change instead. The need for the adoption was then forgotten because the child had the step-father’s last name. Everybody assumed the child was his, so there is no need to adopt, right?
Wrong! The mother and step-father subsequently divorced. The children of the marriage retained military dependent’s benefits through the husband’s branch of military service. The “parents” erroneously believed the benefits would include coverage for the step-child. Shortly after the divorce, the step-father was killed in an automobile accident. The child was still a minor.
However, upon application for survivors benefits, the child was denied them. He was not the child of the deceased. The child had no rights to any benefits from his ex-stepfather. Indeed the child did not even have a right to a share of his ex-stepfather’s estate, or any insurance policies made payable to “my children.” If the child had became (or in the future becomes) seriously ill, there is no medical insurance coverage. The mother cannot afford it, and the military would deny it.
Indeed, the child had no rights to any benefits flowing through the step-father. The child was not his child in the eyes of the law. The tragedy is apparent, but nothing can now be done about it.