Changing Your Child’s Name

Occasionally, a parent has a desire to change their child’s name. Often, this occurs during a divorce of the parents but there are other circumstances as well.

When you petition the court to change your child’s name, you must tell the court why a name change is being requested. You must also prove that the name change is in the child’s best interest and, if necessary, that the change is in the interest of the public.

The Child’s Best Interest

In determining whether a name change is in the child’s best interest, the court should consider the following nonexclusive factors:

Note: Most courts have held that the petitioner does not have to prove that the child’s original name is detrimental to the child in addition to proving that the name change is in the child’s best interest. However, one parent can provide sound reasoning why a given name would be detrimental to the child.

  1. Which name would best avoid anxiety, embarrassment, inconvenience, or confusion.

2. Which name would help identify the child as part of a family unit.

3. Which name would be easier or more convenient for the child.

4. The length of time the present name has been used.

5. Parental misconduct, such as nonsupport or not maintaining contact with the child.

6. The degree of community respect associated with the present or changed name.

7. Whether the change will positively or negatively affect the bond between the child and either parent or the extended families.

8. Any delay in requesting or objecting to the name change.

9. The preference of the child.

10. The age and maturity of the child.

11. Assurances by the parent whose surname the child will use that the parent will not change the surname at a later time.

12. Whether the parent seeking the change is motivated by an attempt to alienate the child from the other parent.

Note: Some courts have held that a court can consider evidence of tradition and custom when determining whether a name change is in the child’s best interest but that evidence of tradition alone is an insufficient ground for changing the child’s name.

Child’s Consent

If the child is at least 10 years old, the child must provide written consent to the name change.

Bottom Line

Changing your child’s name is often relatively simple, though some complications can arise. Contact attorney Vince Handler today for a free consultation.