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Can You Change Your Child’s Name After a Divorce?

If you changed your name when you got married, you might be eager to return to your original surname after you’re divorced. What if you want to change your child’s name, too?

Minnesota allows parents to petition for a name change under Minnesota Statute Section 259.11. However, if the other parent contests the name change, the petitioning parent will have to show that it’s in the best interests of the child.

The best interests of the child

Application of Saxton, 309 N.W.2d 298 (Minnesota 1981) set forth specific factors to determine whether a name change is in a child’s best interest. These include:

  • The child’s preference
  • How a name change will affect their relationship with each parent
  • How long a child has had the given name
  • Potential difficulties associated with the name change

However, the court is entitled to consider other factors, too. For example, they may consider how different the new name will be. A entirely new name has a different weight than hyphenating both parents’ surnames, or removing one name from a hyphenated name.

Courts will also consider why you’re asking for the name change, and why the other parent is opposing the change. For instance, a mom who wants to go back to her birth name and hyphenate her child’s surname may be looked upon more favorably than a parent who wants to give their child an entirely new name, simply because they like it better.

While there’s no guarantee which way a judge will rule, some reasoning is more likely to succeed than others. Discuss your desire for name changes with your divorce attorney: they can explain potential barriers and help you navigate the process.

The trusted divorce lawyers at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A. in St. Paul, MN can help you with your divorce and custody issues. Call today to schedule a consultation.

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