Frequently Asked Questions

How Does One Change One’s Child’s Name?

In South Carolina, name change requests are handled by the family court.  South Carolina law makes the process of changing a child’s name more complicated than most parents expect it to be.  Even if the parents agree on the name change, the court must still appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the child.  S.C. Code § 15-49-10(B).  Unless waived by the court, the parent seeking the name change must name the other parent as a party to the petition to change the child’s name. Id. “The court shall grant the petition if it finds that it is in the best interest of the child.”  Id.

If both parents agree and the guardian does not find the name change to be against the child’s best interests, the name change petition is almost always granted.  When the parents disagree on whether the name change is in the minor child’s best interest, the court applies the nine part test set forth in Mazzone v. Miles, 341 S.C. 203, 532 S.E.2d 890 (Ct.App.2000):

(1) the length of time that the child has used the present surname;  (2) the effect of the change on the preservation and development of the child’s relationship with each parent;  (3) the identification of the child as part of a family unit;  (4) the wishes of the parents;  (5) the stated reason for the proposed change;  (6) the motive of the parents and the possibility that the use of a different name will cause insecurity or a lack of identity;  (7) the difficulty, harassment, or embarrassment that the child may experience when the child bears a surname different from the custodial parent;  (8) the preference of the child if the child is of an age and maturity to express a meaningful preference;  and (9) the degree of community respect associated with the present and proposed surname.

 
 

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