Help, I Want to Change my Minor Child’s Last Name!

A parent may have a number of reasons as to why they would want to change the last name of their child. Perhaps, the parties were not married at the time of the birth and now the child shares a last name with an absent father. Or maybe parties have divorced and the parent wants the child’s last name to match their maiden name. No matter what the reason is that you want to change your minor child’s last name, the attorneys at Ayers Family Law, LLC can guide you through the name change process.

How do I do it?

Title 15, Chapter 49 of the South Carolina Code of Laws addresses name change for adults and minors. It states that a parent who wants to change the name of their minor child must file a petition with the court in order to do so.  The petitioning party must name the other parent, if possible, in order to give them notice to appear and an opportunity to be heard regarding the change.  Title 15, Chapter 49 states that the petition shall be granted if the court finds that the name change is in the best interest of the child.  It also states a Guardian ad Litem must be appointed to the child.

Factors to Determine Best Interests of Child Regarding Name Change

In determining the best interests of the child, the South Carolina Court of Appeals came up with a nine-factor test. The court, in Mazzone vs. Miles, was presented with a case in which an unmarried father requested the name change of a minor child. The court reversed the lower court’s decision to change the child’s name after deciding that the evidence did not show the change was in the best interests of the child. The court made the decision considering nine factors:

  1. The length of time that the child has used their current last name;

  2. The effect that the name change would have on the child’s relationship with each parent;

  3. The child being able to identify with the family as a unit;

  4. Each parent’s position on the name change and whether or not they approve the change;

  5. The reason the petitioning parent desires the name change;

  6. The motive of each parents for requesting and opposing the name change and whether the change will cause the child to lack identity;

  7. The hardships the child may experience when the child bears a last name that is different from the parent with custody;

  8. Depending on the age and maturity of the child, the preference of the child; and

  9. The degree of community respect linked with the child’s present and proposed last name.

Contact Us Today

If you are looking to change the name of your minor child or are just interested in more information, contact us today. The knowledgeable attorneys at Ayers Family Law, LLC, serving the greater Charleston area, are happy to assist with your family law needs.