A parent may want to change a child’s name for a number of reasons. Texas family law allows a court to order the change of a child’s name if doing so is in the child’s best interest. Tex. Fam. Code § 45.004(a). Generally, courts should only order a child’s name change if it is needed for the child’s “substantial welfare.” A mother recently appealed a court’s denial of her petition to change her children’s names from their father’s surname to her maiden name.
The parents divorced in 2011. After allegations the father had abused the son in 2015, the mother had sole possession of both of the minor children. The mother petitioned in 2019 to change the children’s last name to her maiden name. The children agreed to the change, but the father opposed it. He argued they had his name since they were born and that they could change their names on their own when they are adults.
The mother testified she wanted to change the children’s names because she had grown up with her maiden name. She said the children wanted to identify with her family’s name “to feel the closeness of [that] family.” They had been using her name and wanted to legally change their names. She testified that her maiden name is well respected in the area and having that name would be important when the children became involved with the family businesses.