Parents Naming Children or Changing a Child’s Name

| Mar 27, 2015 | Children |

The right to name a child under age 18 belongs to the child’s parents. If the parents cannot agree on the child’s name, the court will decide based on the best interests of the child.

This rule applies whether the children are born to a married couple or to an unmarried couple. However, when the court is presented with a petition to change the name of a child born out of wedlock, the court should consider the following:

  • the effect of the change of the child’s surname on the preservation and development of the child’s relationship with each parent and other siblings;
  • the length of time the child has used a given name;
  • the age of the child as it may relate to his or her identification with the surname; and
  • the difficulties and embarrassment that the child may experience from hearing the present or proposed surname.

The court is not allowed to give greater weight to a father’s interest in the child having his surname than the mother’s interest in the child having her surname.

Sometimes after divorce or separation one parent may try to change the name of the child by filing a petition for change of name. If the other parent does not agree, there will most likely be a court hearing. The court can change the child’s name if it is in the child’s best interest.

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