You suddenly realize your child’s name is, well….not as great as you thought it was. Or, the person you got your child’s last name from turns out to be a criminal of the worst kind whose name and face are plastered all over the evening news. Is there anything you can do to save your child from a lifetime of misery and torment because you got it wrong, or things went south? Yes.
In Minnesota you can ask a judge to change your child’s name by filing the right kind of paperwork, and making sure the other parent has legally sufficient notice of your request. The name change will normally be granted without too much discussion so long as both parents agree and the judge finds it is in the child’s best interest. However, if the other parent objects to the name change, the judge will look much closer and ask a lot more questions about why it is in the child’s best interest to change his/her name. In that case, the judge can only change the child’s name he finds there is clear and compelling evidence that the substantial welfare of the child requires the change.
Factors Considered by Judge When Changing a Child’s Name
In deciding whether it is in the child’s best interest to change his/her name, the judge will specifically consider the following:
- The length of time the child has had his/her current name;
- Any potential the name change may have to cause the child harassment and/or embarrassment;
- The child’s preference;
- Any effect the change would have on the child’s relationship with each parent; and
- The degree of respect the current and proposed names have within the same community.