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Changing a child's last name after a divorce

After going through a divorce in Massachusetts, a mother may wish to have her child's last name changed to her maiden name. As long as the child's father is still fulfilling his parental duties, many courts will not allow a child's last name to be changed after a divorce. However, there are some circumstances where a court will fulfill the mother's request for her child's last name to be changed.

When deciding whether or not to order a name change, courts will look first and foremost at what is in the best interests of the child. The court will evaluate the strength of the mother-child relationship as well as the strength of the father-child relationship. It will also consider how long the child's last name has been that of the father. If changing a child's last name would have a negative impact on the child's life, this information will also be considered.

It is important for divorced parents to understand that if a child's last name is changed after a divorce, this action has no affect on the legal relationships between the child and his or her parents. The father's parental responsibilities as well as his visitation and custody rights will not change once his child's last name has been changed. The child's intestacy or inheritance rights will also not be affected by a last name change.

A mother who would like to have her child's last name changed after a divorce might want to speak with an attorney who has experience in family legal issues. If the child's father objects to the name change, an attorney may be able to represent the mother's side of the issue during a court hearing.

Source: FindLaw, "Changing Your Name After Divorce", accessed on Jan. 16, 2015

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