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Introduction. In almost all circumstances, to change a name, you must make a request to the courts. The name of a child can be changed administratively if there is incorrect or missing information on a birth certificate. To do this, an application can be made to the Department of Human Services. For all other name changes, approval by a judge is needed.
Two Ways. A court can be presented with your request for a name change in two different ways. In a paternity proceeding, a parent may ask for the minor child’s name to be changed; the same goes for changing a name as a part of a divorce. The other way is a separate proceeding where the only issue is a request to change the person’s name, using an Application to Court for Name Change.
The grounds for name changes are found under Minnesota Statutes §259. This law states that:
In minor name changes, the court will decide whether or not to accept the change by using the five factors under the “Best Interests Test. These five factors the court looks at in deciding whether to change the child’s name are the same in both types of court cases.
The court will usually approve the name change unless the judge decides that it is not in the best interests of the child. The Minnesota Supreme Court has stated that changing a child’s last name when one parent opposes it should be considered with “great caution” and only where “the evidence is clear and compelling that the substantial welfare of the child necessitates such a change.”
The best interests of the child are really the biggest factor in changing a child’s last name. The Minnesota Supreme Court has set up factors that the court can use to decide if changing a child’s last name is in the child’s best interests, but note that the court is not limited to these factors. The 5 factors are:
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