Changing the name of a child usually requires court approval but there are exceptions to this rule. For example, a separate petition is not required in an adoption proceeding to change the child’s name.

Where court approval is required, a Petition must be filed. The petitioner has the burden of proving that the proposed name change is in the child’s best interests. The court is to exercise discretion in reaching a decision as to whether it is in the child’s best interests to change his or her name. The court may consider the child’s desires but the child’s preference is not the deciding factor. A mother of a child born out of wedlock has the right to choose the child’s surname however a father does not have a constitutional right to have his child take his surname.

Ideally, the parties should agree upon a name change that serves the best interests of the child. However, if the parties cannot agree on the name change, then it is strongly suggested that you consult with an attorney before filing a petition with the Court.

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