Name Change Series, Part One: Changing the Name of a Minor Child

Do you want to change your child’s last name? There are several common reasons parents may seek, on behalf of their child, for the child’s name to be changed: a parent wishes for the child to have his/her last name, as opposed to the last name on the birth certificate; a parent wishes for the child to have the same last name as a step-parent; or one parent is now divorced and wishes for the child to have his/her last name. For these and many other reasons, South Carolina Family Courts consider Petitions for a Minor Child’s Name Change.

Ultimately, the Family Court must determine if the name change is in the particular child’s best interest. In doing so, the court considers nine factors when presiding over a hearing for a Minor Child’s Name Change. The nine factors that a Family Court judge addresses are known as the Mazzone factors and include:

  1. the length of time the child has used the present surname/last name;
  2. the effect of the proposed change on the preservation and development of the child’s relationship with each parent;
  3. the identification of the child as part of a family unit;
  4. the wishes of each parent;
  5. the reason the petitioning parent states for the proposed change;
  6. the motive of the petitioning parent and the possibility the child’s use of a different name will cause insecurity or a lack of identity;
  7. the difficulty, harassment, or embarrassment the child may experience if the child bears a surname/last name different from that of the custodial parent;
  8. if the child is of age and maturity to express a meaningful preference, the child’s preference; and
  9. the degree of community respect associated with the present and proposed surname/last name.

If you would like to pursue a name change for your minor child, contact our office today.