Friday, April 13, 2012

I want to change my child's last name - but the other parent will not agree

After a separation or divorce, one parent may want to change the child's surname.  For example, a child may have been given his father's last name, but after a divorce, if the father is not as involved in the child's life, the mother may want to give the child her last name.

In Pennsylvania child name change cases, the person who wants to change the name of a child must show the court why the name change would be in the child's best interest and give specific reasons.  If the other parent contests the name change, the court must evaluate all of the relevant factual circumstances.  Generally, the court must consider the child's physical, intellectual, moral and spiritual well-being, bonds between parent and child, the respect or social stigma which may exist in the community regarding a particular name, and the child's understanding of the name change, if he or she is of sufficient age to understand the rationale.

Recently, the Common Pleas Court of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania directed that a child's last name be changed to that of his mother, who has sole legal and physical custody.  In its opinion, the court gave great weight to the fact that the child really does not know his father, as he was deported and there is no meaningful contact.  Additionally, the child has severe cognitive disabilities making contact with his father even less likely. The father protested the name change because, with very little prospect of having a relationship with the child, having the same last name is their only tie.

The trial court granted the change of name and the father appealed to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.  The appeal is pending.  The name of the case is In Re: A.A.H.S., No. 2011-15262.

Pennsylvania law provides the trial court with discretion regarding contested name changes of a child.  Each case will be specific to the facts and circumstances of a particular family.  The litigation can be extremely expensive and time consuming.  If you are considering a name change for a minor, which you expect the other parent to oppose, consult with an experienced attorney to analyze your case.


Baby His Last Name My Last Name

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am the mother in the case you referenced (In RE AAHS). I did not hire an attorney, but it consumed my life for many months preparing the brief for the Superior Court. There were many factors in this case that make it very unusual.

Anonymous said...

Email me Ilike to ask you some question about changing my son last name. Litotoro@comcast.net

Anonymous said...

The appeals court upheld the name change.

Mark said...

I think there should be no problem with the last name change. There are lots of people availing the name change services and living happily.

julz said...

what did it cost, approximately?

reginald jacques said...

I have my son that I just found out through DNA is my son about 6 years ago how do I change his last name to my last name?

Anonymous said...

My son is almost 4 and I wanted to let me change his last to mine but the other parent doesn't want to he's not constant in our child's life always in and out of jail and nothing stable for him when he's out sees him when he wants to I do have sole legal / physical custody will that make my changes easier? Please help

Anonymous said...

I found out about my son when he was 3. The grandmother had custody and passed away. She had me pay child support but wanted to control visitation. When I came down to court the court awarded his cousin custody and told me that my son does not know me even though it was document that my son was touched improperly when he was younger at the place he is residing at. My son had to see a psychiatrist at age 5.He is now 11 still living at the same location. The mother does not have custody and the cousin of the mother is the care taker and has custody, can I still get my son's last name changed?