Name changes are a regular occurrence following a divorce, particularly for women who wish to return to their maiden name. But there are also occasions when a parent may wish to change the name of their child. The reasons are personal to the individual and the change may be wanted by either the mother or the father.
Name change basics
In a perfect world, both parents will agree that changing the child’s name is the right thing to do. When this is the case, their request is much more likely to be granted. The court will have the final say, but it’s more inclined to grant the request when both parents are on board with it.
Name-change requests get more complicated when one parent objects. In addition to filing the necessary forms for the name change request, the parent seeking the change must also notify the other parent that they are requesting the change. The court will then hold a hearing to decide whether or not to approve the request.
As with any child custody issue, the court’s overriding concern is the best interest of the child. The court will use this principal when it rules on the name change and there are a number of factors the court will consider. If the child has a preference and is able to express it, their preference may carry weight with the court. The length of time the child has had their current name is another consideration, as is the motivation of the parent seeking the change. And the effect the change would have on the child – their relationship with the parent, any embarrassment or difficulties the child may suffer and whether the change would result in a loss of identity – all of these will be considered by the court in order to best serve the child’s interest.