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Divorce is often a highly contentious affair, leaving both spouses with feelings of bitterness and resentment. While spouses usually share a last name during their marriage, they also usually change their name back to their premarital name after divorce. When spouses have hyphenated their names, or when a mother gets majority parenting time and the child has the father’s last name, there may be good reason for wanting to change the child’s last name as well. But changing a child’s last name after divorce is not an easy process. If you are divorced and interested in changing your child’s name, read on and then contact a Hinsdale family law attorney.
The law that encompasses whether a child’s last name may be changed is separate from the law that addresses divorce. Changing a child’s name is a civil procedure, and the law states that a court can only approve a child’s name change if there is a good enough reason - “clear and convincing evidence” showing that the name change would be in the child’s best interests is required.
While one parent may feel as though changing the child’s name would be in the child’s best interests, the other parent may strongly disagree. Simply wanting to change your child’s name to your own name or because it would be more convenient is not enough. When determining whether to approve a name change, a judge can consider many factors, including:
What both parents want and why
What the child wants, if age appropriate
The child’s relationship with both parents, as well as any siblings and other family members who share the child’s last name
The child’s experience in his or her community using the present name
Both parents can present arguments for or against the name change. When parents share important decision-making power, known as “parental responsibilities,” courts have held that one parent cannot change a child’s name without the other parent’s consent. Courts take children’s connections to both parents seriously and will not change a child’s name without good reason.
The desire to change a child’s name after a divorce is perfectly understandable, especially if your child’s other parent plays a negligible role in your child’s life. For help petitioning to change your child’s name, managing issues of child custody, or with any other part of the divorce process, call the DuPage County parental responsibilities attorneys with Law Office of Martoccio & Martoccio. Whatever issues you are facing, we will do our best to help in a communicative, efficient manner. Call us today at 630-920-8855 to schedule a free initial case review.