Can I Change My Child’s Last Name?

reasonable person lawyer birmingham Sometimes, what we think we want turns out not to be what we want at all. This “want” can range from employment and living arrangements to changing a name. As it pertains to changing your child’s last name, there may be several reasons why you would want to make such a big change. You may want to change your child’s last name because one of the parents has decided to give up his or her parental rights. You may want to change your child’s last name because someone whom you have married has decided to adopt your child. Regardless of the reason you have for wanting to change your child’s last name, it is important to know whether the state of Alabama allows for children’s last names to be changed at all. If you or a loved one is seeking information in this area, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced Birmingham family law attorney so that we can strategize about the best possible outcomes for your situation.

Changing Your Child’s Last Name in Alabama


In Alabama, an adult, which is any person over the age of 19 years old can apply for a name change of a minor or anyone under the age of 19. To change your child’s last name in Alabama, the child must be a legal resident of Alabama, typically for at least six to 12 months. Once citizenship has been established, you must provide a certified copy of your child’s birth certificate to the court and both parents must sign a consent form. In the event that one of the parents is unknown or cannot be located, then an attorney is required for the name change.

Lastly, if your child is 14 or older, then he or she must sign the legal document and consent to the change, as well. It is important to note that even though there are consistencies throughout the state, the county that you and your child live in will determine the requirements as to the documents that are needed for you to obtain the name change for your child. Also, if the court finds that the child’s name being changed is not consistent with public interest or that a parent is trying to escape his or her obligations, the court may deny a request to change your child’s name. Because of this, seeking advice and representation from an attorney in the beginning can save you time, money, and energy.

Need Legal Advice?


Regardless of the reason for changing your child’s last name, Alabama has specific requirements that must be adhered to before a name change can be accepted. Changing your child’s last name can be a simple task or a difficult one depending on the parties involved and the documentation that you have. Because of this, it is invaluable to seek legal advice and representation if you are considering changing your child’s last name. If you or a loved one would like to change the last name of your child, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced family law attorney at Massey, Stotser, & Nichols, PC to help you navigate through this process.

Nondisclosure of Assets in Birmingham

For most people, divorcing someone that you thought you would spend your entire life with can be difficult. Having to determine custody if there are children involved, as well as having to divide up marital assets and losses can be difficult to overcome. These situations can be made easier when both divorcing spouses have come to an understanding and a written agreement has been made between the parties to be amicable and when assets and losses are generally known by the parties.

But what happens when you discover that your divorcing spouse has not disclosed all of their assets? If you or a loved one have been denied emergency treatment, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced Birmingham family law attorney so that we can strategize about the best possible outcomes for your situation.

Nondisclosure of Assets

One of the many challenges that divorcing couples must face is dividing up their marital assets and their marital losses. Some couples are able to cooperate with each other and choose how they would like to divide up custody as well as their assets. However, this is not always the case with divorcing couples. Alabama is an equitable distribution state. That means, generally, in Alabama, the rule for divorcing couples is that the division of marital property is to be equitable, though it may not necessarily be equal depending on the facts. For the most part, if the undisclosed facts are so significant whereas one party is extremely harmed, there is a duty to disclose all assets.

Each spouse is supposed to be open and honest as to all of their assets, unfortunately this is not always the case. Divorcing spouses can choose nondisclosure by hiding or understating certain marital property, by overstating their debt, by reporting actual expenses that are not true, as well as reporting that their income is actually lower than what it really is.  Hiding assets can be reckless and can lead to a more drawn out and uncomfortable divorce. Because all situations are different it is in your best interest to seek legal advice and representation if you are going through a divorce that is less than amicable.

Need Legal Advice?

Divorce is never easy and is made a much harder process when you’re divorcing spouse is not being cooperative. It is known that during some marital assets are hidden and underestimated, however, that does not have to be the case in your circumstance.

Seeking legal representation can help ensure that you are receiving what is rightfully yours. Because all situations are different, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced Birmingham family law attorney at Massey, Stotser, & Nichols, PC to help you with your case. Contact our office today!


Birmingham Grandparent Visitation: FAQ

reasonable person lawyer birmingham Grandparent visitation rights are governed by Alabama Code § 30-3-4.2 (2016). Essentially, the law protects the primacy of a parent’s right to deny visitation with a grandchild, but allows a grandparent to challenge that denial under some circumstances.The previous version of the law was struck down by the Alabama Supreme Court as being unconstitutional. The revised law went into effect in 2016.

In enacting the statute in 2016, the Alabama legislature recognized that a fit parent’s decisions are entitled to special weight due to a parent’s fundamental right to make decisions concerning the rearing of his or her child. Nonetheless, the Legislature also recognized the importance of the extended family. The Legislature passed the Grandparent Visitation Act with the intent to balance the constitutional rights of parents and children by imposing an enhanced standard of review and consideration of the harm to a child caused by the parent’s limitation or termination of a prior relationship of a child to his or her grandparent.

Here are some common FAQs regarding grandparent rights in Alabama.

Under What Circumstances May a Grandparent File Suit to Gain Visitation Rights?

Grandparents may file an original action lawsuit or may intervene in an existing divorce or custody or other domestic relations case and ask the court for reasonable visitation rights with respect to the grandchild if any of the following circumstances exist:

The parents are divorcing

The parents have died

The grandchild is born out of wedlock — if the grandparents are on the father’s side, paternity must be legally established OR

Parental rights have been terminated or parental rights of a parent or parents are being sought to be terminated by the Alabama DHR Child Protective Services

Under What Conditions Will the Grandparent Succeed?

The law makes it clear that, if a fit parent decides to deny or limit visitation of a grandparent, that decision is presumed to be “in the best interest” of the grandchild.

However, a grandparent can offer evidence that challenges that presumption and must prove that

has established “a significant and viable relationship” with the grandchild AND that grandparent visitation is in the best interest of the child.

To establish “a significant and viable relationship” with the grandchild, the grandparent must prove that:

Grandchild lived with grandparent for at least six consecutive months with or without a parent present within the three years preceding the filing of the petition OR

Grandparent was the caregiver to the child on a regular basis for at least six consecutive months within the three years preceding the filing of the petition OR

Grandparent had frequent or regular contact with the child for at least 12 consecutive months that resulted in a strong and meaningful relationship with the child within the three years preceding the filing of the petition OR

Other facts proving a strong and meaningful relationship

To establish that grandparent visitation is in the “best interest of the child,” the grandparent must prove all of the following:

Grandparent has the capacity to give the child love, affection, and guidance

The loss of an opportunity to maintain a significant and viable relationship with the grandparent has caused or is reasonably likely to cause harm to the child AND

Grandparent is willing to cooperate with the parent(s) (if applicable) if visitation with the child is allowed

What is a Grandparent?

All the recognized categories of “grandparent” are recognized and the term “grandparent” has the normal meaning. The Act defines “grandparent” as “the parent of a parent, whether the relationship is created biologically or by adoption.”

What is Harm to the Grandchild?

As used in the statute, “harm” A finding by a court that, without court-ordered visitation by the grandparent, the grandchild’s emotional, mental, or physical well-being has been, could reasonably be, or would be jeopardized.

What is the Standard of Proof?

Everything that a grandparent is required to prove must be proven by “clear and convincing evidence.”

What Happens if a Grandchild is Adopted?

The right of the grandparent to seek visitation terminates if the court approves a petition for adoption by an adoptive parent

Contact Massey, Stotser & Nichols, P.C.

If you need more information about grandparent visitation rights, contact the experienced family law attorneys at Massey, Stotser & Nichols, P.C. MS&N is a full service, Birmingham, Alabama law firm that serves families in the cities of Birmingham, Alabaster, Ashville, Bessemer, Clay, Fultondale, Gardendale, Homewood, Hoover, Leeds, Moody, Mountain Brook, Oneonta, Pelham, Pell City, Pinson, Springville, Trussville, and the surrounding areas. Visit our website at for more information about our practice groups including business law, real estate, accident, and personal injury law. To schedule a consultation, use this form on the Firm’s website or call 205-838-9000.

Who Is A Reasonable Person? The Reasonable Person Standard In Alabama

reasonable person lawyer birmingham When you are involved in an accident, you may sustain physical injuries, you may sustain mental injuries, and you may even be out of work until you are able to recuperate fully. When this occurs, you want to be compensated by those responsible for your injuries. You have two options: You can file a claim with insurance companies, or you can file suit. When you file suit, your fault in the accident and whether you acted as a reasonable person will determine whether you will be compensated for your injuries.

So, what is the reasonable person standard? If you or a loved one is seeking information about this, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced Birmingham personal injury attorney to help find the best possible outcomes for your situation.

Reasonable Person in Alabama

When you have been injured in an accident and are filing suit with a claim based on negligence, the reasonable person standard will apply. To be negligent is to act or fail to act in such a way that causes injury to another person. When negligence occurs, Alabama law seeks to determine whether the actors in a negligence claim were reasonable. Reasonability focuses on how a typical person in your exact circumstance would have acted. For instance, a reasonable person would not yell “fire” in a crowded theater if there was no fire, nor would a reasonable person run a red light.

Generally, when the reasonable person comes into question, a jury will determine whether you or another person acted reasonably. It is important to note that there are nuances in place in regards to a reasonable person standard. For instance, a reasonable adult will not be held to the same standard as a reasonable minor or professional person such as a doctor. Because of this, it is invaluable to seek legal advice and representation if you find yourself in this situation.

Need Legal Advice?

The reasonable person standard and how it applies to your situation can be the determining factor inwhether you are compensated for your injuries. Because a personal injury attorney understands this, it is invaluable to seek legal advice and representation if you have been involved in an accident and have sustained injuries.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced personal injury attorney at Massey, Stotser, & Nichols, PC to help you with your case.

Major Changes in Landlord-Tenant Law

photo of a rental agreement to illustrate major changes to alabama's landlord-tenant lawsTo all the landlords out there, we wanted to let you know of  very recent changes to the Landlord Tenant Act that is of major importance.  Effective June 1, 2018, the following changes became effective:

Act 2018-473, HB421, amends Section 35-9A-421, Code of Alabama 1975, relating to noncompliance with a rental agreement, to: (1) to expand the acts or omissions that constitute a noncurable default of the rental agreement; (2) clarify that the seven-day notice period for a notice to a tenant of noncompliance with a lease is seven business days; (3) specify that no breach of a lease may be cured by a tenant more than two times in a 12-month period except by written consent of the landlord.

Of particular note is the change in the time that is available for a renter to cure a curable breach such as rent.  The law use to provide for seven days, but now provides for SEVEN BUSINESS DAYS.  Also, the tenant now only gets two chances to cure the same breach in a 12-month period.  So, if a tenant is habitually late, you only have to let them cure twice after proper notice. After that, you do not have to allow them to cure.

Should you have any questions about the changes or if you need assistance with any of your landlord tenant needs, do not hesitate to contact Massey, Stotser & Nichols, PC.