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Barbara L. Jouette, Attorney, P.C.
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Divorced couple battles over children's surname

When dealing with children during and following a divorce, family law judges in Collin County and all throughout the nation must take the best interests of the children into question at all times in order to better protect them. Regardless of the wishes of the parents or how impassioned they are in their beliefs, if something may have a negative effect on a child’s future it should be avoided.

A court recently decided that a mother cannot change the name of her two children without good reason. They further stated that the court would consider allowing a legal name change once the children were old enough to request the change on their own.

Following a divorce, the mother was left as the primary guardian of the ex-couple’s children and purportedly changed their last name on various documents, using her maiden name hyphenated with the last name of the children’s father. It was said that she then legally tried changing their last name to match her maiden name after her ex-husband filed a petition in court to keep her from using the hyphenated surname.

While the woman’s intentions to hyphenate the last name seem to be an attempt to fairly reflect both family names, it appears that she may have tried changing the children’s name to that of her maiden name in vindication of her ex-husband’s court complaint. The judge questioned the motives behind changing the children’s names, as well as the influence the change could end up having on them.

Many family legal issues are difficult to deal with given that all parties are usually passionate about their opinions and viewpoints. If you face a difficult situation following a divorce, hiring a lawyer to assist you in taking your pleas to the court may be the only way to obtain justice for you and your children.

Source: Philly, “N.J. high court rules on changing children's names,” Barbara Boyer, August 14, 2013