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When Family Courts Do and Don’t Allow Name Changes for Children

The process of petitioning the court to change a child’s name is relatively simple, but the judge will only allow the name change to go forward if they believe it to be in the best interest of the child. This means the standards will vary from case to case.

A court is likely to allow a name change in the following circumstances:

  • Both parents petition for the name change (whether married or unmarried)
  • One parent petitions and the other parent does not object upon notification
  • One parent petitions and the other parent either cannot be found or has abandoned the child

However, a court will be unlikely to allow a name change if both parents still have a relationship with the child and one of the parents opposes the change. It is still possible for the name change to go through, but there will likely need to be court hearings, during which the court will consider any or all of the following factors:

  • How long the child has used his or her current name
  • The quality of the child’s relationship with each parent
  • The need identified by the family to use a new name
  • The wishes of the child (for older children)
  • How the name change will affect the relationship with both parents
  • Any other relevant factors to the case.

Common circumstances in which a parent might seek a name change include adoption, marriage into a new family or a desire to be rid of the name of a parent who was abusive or who abandoned the family.

If you’re interested in learning more about the steps you would need to take to seek a name change for any of your children, contact an experienced Minnesota divorce lawyer at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A. with any questions you have.

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