There are a number of reasons why a parent may what to change her child’s name. The most common situation that I have seen is that either a father has or has not been involved in the child’s life, and for that reason the mother wishes to change the child’s last name.
In order to change your child’s name, an application would need to be filed with the Probate Court in the county that the child has resided in for at least one year. On the application, the applicant will have to state the reasons for the requested name change and the requested name. Notice of the application will have to be given to the non-consenting parent and a hearing would be scheduled before a Court Magistrate.
The standard the Court would be applying in reviewing the application is reasonable and proper cause for the name change. In determining whether there is a reasonable and proper cause for the name change, the Court would have to consider the best interest of the child. When considering whether to change the child’s last name, the Court will take into consideration the following factors:
- the effect of the change on the preservation and development of the child’s relationship with each parent;
- the identification of the child as part of a family unit;
- the length of time that the child has used a surname;
- the preference of the child if the child is of sufficient maturity to express a meaningful preference;
- whether the child’s surname is different from the surname of the child’s residential parent;
- the embarrassment, discomfort, or inconvenience that can result when a child bears a surname different from the residential parent’s;
- parental failure to maintain contact with and support of the child;
- and any other factor relevant to the child’s best interest.
If you have questions regarding applying for a child’s name change or having representation in the proceedings, seek out a probate lawyer.