Divorced parents of children have been facing off over their children’s surnames. California residents may be interested in learning about a New Jersey case in which the custodial parent attempted to change her children’s surnames without her ex’s consent. The first court ruling held that when both parents selected the surnames of their children, the names could only be changed if the action serves the children’s best interests.
The ruling came about when the couple, who had been married for 11 years, divorced and the woman became the custodial parent. Her ex-husband found out that she had been using a hyphenated version of her children’s names that encompassed her maiden name, which she had taken back after the divorce, and her ex’s surname. He filed a motion requesting that his ex not use the altered surname, and she counter-filed a motion requesting that the children’s surnames be changed to her maiden name. Although her request was originally granted, an appellate court overturned it because it was deemed unsuitable to change the names of children who were born to parents who were married at the time.
When people request name changes after a divorce, it is usually because they are trying to change from the father’s surname to that of the mother. Many of the objections regarding names occur because of a rich history of patriarchal tradition that has been status quo for so long, even though the practice may appear to be outdated.
California residents struggling with child custody and surname issues may benefit from the services of an attorney. A family law attorney may be able to address concerns and help those seeking an equitable solution understand the law. Whether people have issues with children’s names or child support, an attorney may be able to offer options to help them make informed decisions.
Source: Justia, “And They Shall Call Him . . .? Post-Divorce Disputes Over Children’s Surnames“, Joanna L. Grossman, August 22, 2013