NAME CHANGE PETITIONS FILED ON BEHALF OF MINOR CHILDREN: UTAH COURTS APPLY A SIX-PART BEST INTERESTS TEST:
When a name change petition is filed on behalf of a minor child, the Utah courts apply a "best interests" analysis to decide whether or not the petition will be granted.
The specific factors that the court considers include:
- the child's preference in light of the child's age and experience,
- the effect of a name change on the development and preservation of the child's relationship with each parent,
- the length of time a child has used a name,
- the difficulties, harassment or embarrassment a child may experience from bearing the present or proposed name,
- the possibility that a different name may cause insecurity and lack of identity, and
- the motive or interests of the custodial parent.
The relative importance of each factor depends upon the facts and circumstances presented by a given case. For example, a child's preference is particularly important for older children (courts have held that children who are thirteen years of age are mature enough to decide whether they wish to legally change their name; accordingly, the preference of a teenager will be a paramount factor).
A name change petition for a minor should be filed in the district court of the county where the minor resides.