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What to Know About Changing a Child’s Name

By law, you can petition the court to change a child’s name — and that process itself is not very difficult. What can be more challenging is convincing the court that such a name change is in the best interest of the child.

The “best interest” standard is rather vague, but it does allow judges to more carefully weigh each case individually to make decisions that make sense given the circumstances with which they are presented.

Below are some examples of situations in which the court will more likely than not approve a name change for a child:

  • Both parents file the name change petition together
  • One parent petitions and the other parent does not object to the petition
  • One parent petitions and the other parent either cannot be found or has abandoned the child

In circumstances in which both parents have a relationship with the child and one of the parents opposes the name change, it will likely be difficult to convince the court to allow the name change to proceed. The court still may be willing to allow the name change to happen in a case like this, but it will likely hold a hearing to listen to arguments from each parent and then determine what is in the child’s best interest. Some of the factors the court will consider include:

  • How long the child has used the current last name
  • Potential effects of the name change on preserving the relationship with each parents
  • The child’s wishes (depending on the age of the child)
  • The child’s identification with a family unit through a certain name
  • Strength of the child’s relationship with each parent
  • Any other factors deemed important by the court

For further advice on this complex issue, meet with an experienced Minnesota divorce lawyer at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A.

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