Name Change

Hutcheson v. Taylor, ___ So. 3d ___, 35 Fla. L. Weekly D2051 (Fla. 1st DCA 9/13/10)

The trial court abused its discretion by changing the surname of a child born out of wedlock from her mother’s maiden name to the hyphenated name of her mother and father.  “[A] child’s surname may be modified ‘only where the record affirmatively shows that such change is required for the welfare of the minor,’” and “paternity is not a sufficient basis on which to grant a change in surname.”  In this case, the father, as the party requesting a name change, had the burden of proving that a change would be in the child’s best interests, but he failed to do so.  The father’s speculation that the child might have a different name from both parents because the mother was engaged or that the failure to incorporate the father’s surname into the child’s name might send “a negative message regarding the Mother’s attitude about the Father-daughter relationship” did not “establish that it was in the child’s best interest to change her name from that which her parents jointly selected at birth, as reflected by their execution of the affidavit for a birth certificate.  In ordering a name change on the ground that both parents are ‘equal,’ the circuit court abused its discretion.”