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New Jersey Supreme Court Issues Ruling On Renaming Children

According to a news report, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled on August 12th that a Burlington County mother must prove a proposed name change for her children will be in their best interests. The case before the court involved the divorced mother of two children who had, after her divorce, changed her children’s last name to a hyphenated version of the mother’s married and maiden names. Her ex-husband, the children’s father, objected. The change had been reflected in school and health records.

The couple was married in 1999, had children in 2006 and 2008, separated in 2008 and subsequently divorced. At the time of the name changes, both parents were equal sharing joint custody.

After the father filed for an order to bar the hyphenated name change, the mother petitioned the court to change the children’s last name to the mother’s last name only. The court approved the change. The father appealed and won. Without citing the circumstances involved, the New Jersey Supreme Court became involved in the case, the court ruled that the names may be changed, but only if the mother can prove the change is in the best interests of the children. The court made special note that neither parent held a “superior right” over the other in deciding upon this matter.

Issues involving child custody and other co-parenting decisions often become a source of disagreement for parents when attempting to raise their children following a divorce. New Jersey parents may be able to reduce stress and other problems for their children by attempting to work together. An experienced family law attorney may be able to develop a compromise that would be acceptable to both sides and approved by the court.

Source: The Inquirer, “N.J. high court rules on changing children’s names “, Barbara Boyer, August 13, 2013

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