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NAME CHANGE LAW


Name Change Law and Procedures

MISSOURI COURT OF APPEALS CLARIFIES LEGAL STANDARD APPLICABLE IN CONTESTED CHILDREN'S NAME CHANGE CASES

The decision in May, 2008, by the Missouri Court of Appeals in the case of Jenkins v. Austin helps clarify the legal standard that a parent must satisfy in cases where a child's name change application is challenged by the other parent. In the Jenkins case, the natural father sought to change the child's last name to his own. The Court ruled as follows:
  1. Father had standing to request a name change, and the trial court had the authority to grant a name change of a minor child in the context of a paternity action.
  2. The trial court's finding that a name change was in the child's best interests was supported by the evidence and was not against the weight of the evidence where the child was less than one year old, Father was heavily involved in his care and would be providing the child's school with information and picking the child up three days a week, Father opined that his family in Tennessee would have more of a connection with the child if his last name were Austin, and Mother's other child bore the surname of his biological father.
The Court made clear that it is no sufficient to simply allege that the child should have the same last name as the parent. Specific arguments must be made as to why the child's interests would be served by the change.