Can a Parent Change the Name of a Minor Child without the Other Parent’s Consent?
There is often nothing harder on a child than a turbulent separation, particularly when the argument concerns the child themself. Changes to a child’s name are frequently contentious, with each parent firm in their position for or against. Is the consent of one parent enough to win a name change for the child?
The short answer to this question is not without a Court Order, in Minnesota, at least. Minnesota Statute 259.10 governs the procedure that a parent must follow to request that a Court changes a child’s name. In the statute, it states:
…no minor child’s name may be changed without both parents having notice of the pending of the application for change of name whenever practicable, as determined by the court.
To consider granting a name change, the Court must consider the best interests of the child. Looking at the best interests, some of the factors the Court takes into account are:
- How long has the child had the current name?;
- Will there be any harassment or embarrassment that the change of name will cause?;
- The child’s preference;
- The effect of the change on the child’s relationship with each parent (if the name is changed);
- The degree of community respect associated with the present and proposed names.
In considering whether the Court would allow the name change, the basic consideration is the welfare of the child. If neither parent opposes the name change, the name change will be granted. However, if the parent of a child does oppose the name change, the Court must examine clear and concise evidence presented that the child’s name change is appropriate. The opposing party must establish that the name change will not best serve the child’s best interests.
In my experience in contested name change cases, the Court, in most situations, will have an evidentiary hearing or trial wherein the Court will listen to testimony from the parents and other interested parties to determine whether the name change is in the best interests of the child or not. It is in this exact kind of situation that you need the knowledge of an experienced family law attorney.