Your bundle of joy has arrived! Naming your child is a significant decision. For some it is an easy decision. For others it is not so easy. So, what happens if birth parents don’t agree and one parent wants to change the child’s name?
In Delaware, the Family Court has jurisdiction to hear a request to change a child’s name as part of a petition for a paternity determination. If paternity is not in dispute, a parent’s request to change a child’s name is heard by the Court of Common Pleas.
Regardless of which Court hears the petition, the analysis is the same. Both Courts apply a ten (10) part test to determine if the name change is in the child’s best interest. Those factors are:
- a parent’s failure to financially support the child,
- a parent’s failure to maintain contact with the child,
- the length of time that a surname has been used for or by the child,
- misconduct by one of the child’s parents,
- whether the surname is different from the surname of the child’s custodial parent,
- the child’s reasonable preference for a surname,
- the effect of the change of the child’s surname on the preservation and development of the child’s relationship with each parent,
- the degree of community respect associated with the child’s present surname and proposed surname,
- the difficulties, harassment, or embarrassment that the child may experience from bearing the present of the proposed name, and
- the identification of the child as a party of the family unit.
If you have a question about whether to file a petition, or which Court has jurisdiction, you should confer with an attorney to understand your rights.