Changing the surname of the minor child after divorce is no simple matter. As a matter of fact, the burden of proof in such a situation is extremely high.
The standard for changing the child’s name is whether the change is in the child’s best interests or is necessary for the welfare of the child. Azzara v. Waller, 495 So.2d 277 (Fla. 2nd DCA 1986) stands for the proposition that a minor’s surname should only be changed when the evidence affirmatively shows that such change is necessary as necessitated by the welfare of the child. In Coolidge v. Ulbrich, 733 So.2d 1092 (Fla. 4th DCA 1999), the court stated that a child’s surname should remain unchanged absent evidence that the change is necessary for the welfare of the child.
When a trial court changes the surname of a minor child without adequate evidence, it constitutes an abuse of discretion. A petitioning parent cannot meet the heavy burden in these situations by making assertions which are conclusory, speculative, unsupported by competent and substantial evidence, and irrelevant to the best interests of or for the welfare of the child.
Frequently a parent will attempt to change the surname of a minor child in order to distance the child from the other parent or for that parent’s particular own convenience. This is what occurred in the case of Airsman v. Airsman, 179 So3d 342 ( 2nd DCA 2015). When an attempt to change the name of a child is based on the slightest evidence, the relief will be denied, just as it was in the Airsman case.
Contact Boca Raton divorce attorney Alan R. Burton for further information on changing the name of a minor child, or any other issues related to divorce, paternity and family law. Mr. Burton is readily accessible by calling him at 954-295-9222.
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