What’s in a name? For starters, a last name ties a person to a family. Most commonly, however, a last name specifically ties a person to his or her father and his family. This is conventional in many parts of the world, including the United States. But what happens when a couple divorces and the child no longer lives primarily with the father, and perhaps doesn’t even have contact with him? What if the mother reverts back to her maiden name?
Changing your child’s last name can be difficult to do for a number of reasons. As with anything related to a divorce in which children are involved, the kids’ best interests come first. The following are some of the questions the judge may take into consideration in determining what’s in the child’s best interest:
- What is the quality and importance of the child’s relationship with the father?
- How does the relationship between the child and the father compare to that of the child and the mother?
- Does the name change relate to the formation of a new family identity, such as the remarriage of the mother?
- How long has the child used the father’s last name?
If the judge determines that the proposed name change is what is best for the child, the request may be approved. It’s important to remember that a name change does not affect the legal status of the child’s father, except in cases in which a new stepparent is legally adopting the child.
When you have questions or concerns related to family law, specifically child custody issues, meet with the respected lawyers at the Law Office of K. Dean Kantaras, serving clients throughout the St. Petersburg area.