Neal v. Neal

941 S.W.2d 501

 

RULE:

No law presumes that it is detrimental for a child to have a name that is different from the parent. A general concern of possible detriment is insufficient to deny a petition for change of name in light of the obvious legislative intent that such a procedure be available.

FACTS:

The parties were married, but eventually divorced. As part of the dissolution, the court refused to change the wife's name as requested and granted the husband's request to change the name of the parties' minor child. Additionally, the court awarded custody of the minor child to the wife and specific visitation to the husband and ordered the husband to pay an amount in child support. The wife appealed from the trial court's ruling.

ISSUE:

Did the trial court err by changing the child's last name and refusing to change the wife's last name?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

On appeal, the court reversed the decision of the trial court. The court held that, although the trial court had the power to change the name of the minor child in a dissolution proceeding, it could only do so after adequate notice to the opposing party. The court ruled that the husband's pleadings did not give adequate notice to the wife of his request for a name change and the reasons for the requested change. The court further held that it was error to refuse to restore the wife's maiden name, because there was no presumption that having a mother with a different name was harmful to a child.

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