An adult name change (i.e., an individual over age 18) is a relatively straightforward procedure. Things become procedurally more complex when a minor’s name is to be changed. Among other things, a Court approved “next friend” must represent the minor in Court because a minor generally lacks capacity to represent himself/herself. When the parents or legal guardians do not consent to the minor’s name change, things become substantively more complex, particularly when the change is to the minor’s surname/last name.
Neither parent has the absolute right to confer his/her name upon a child. G.J.R.B. ex rel. v. R.J.K. v. J.K.B., 269 S.W.3d 546 (Mo. Ct. App. 2008). A court will only change the minor’s name if it is in the child’s best interests, and the burden of proving that rests with the petitioning parent. Id. A simple statement by a parent that he/she would like the child’s surname to match his/her own is insufficient. Blechle v. Poirrier, 110 S.W.3d 853, 855 (Mo. Ct. App. 2003). When determining whether a name change is in the child’s best interests, the Court considers, among other things, (1) the child’s age, (2) the potential embarrassment or discomfort the child would experience when his/her surname is different than the custodial parent and (3) how the name change will affect the child’s relationship with his/her parents. R.K.T.S. by V.T. v. R.S., 819 S.W.2d 749, 750 (Mo. Ct. App. 1991).
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