Articles Posted in Name Change

A trial court generally cannot grant relief that was not requested by the parties in a Texas family law matter.  Relief must generally conform to the pleadings, though in some cases an issue may be tried by consent of the parties.  A mother recently challenged a trial court’s order changing the children’s name to something different from what she had requested when the father had not participated in the proceedings.

Mother Petitions for Name Change

In January 2022, the trial court adjudicated parentage and named the mother sole managing conservator of the children, who were born in 2019 and 2020.  The children’s last names were structured as “[father’s last name] [mother’s last name].” The mother then petitioned to remove the father’s last name from the children’s last names, alleging he had not been in their lives or supported them and that the change was in the children’s best interest.

The trial court held two hearings, but the father failed to answer or participate.  The mother testified that she wanted to change the children’s name to avoid inconvenience and confusion.  She said that she had extended family in the area who shared her last name and that she did not plan to change her name.  She also testified the change was in the best interest of the children and that she had not requested it to try to alienate the father.  The birth certificates showing the children’s names were admitted as evidence.

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How-to-Improve-Your-Mental-Health-300x200In some Texas divorce cases, how a party requests something can determine if they are successful.  A wife recently challenged part of the property division and the court’s denial of her name change after a second trial.

The appeals court’s opinion states the wife informed the court the parties had agreed two pensions would be divided with “a 50 percent shared interest per each party as of the date of divorce.”  The husband’s attorney agreed that was their understanding of the agreement.

In a memorandum ruling, the trial court granted the divorce and accepted the parties’ agreement as to the fifty-fifty division of pensions.

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iStock-1147846829Sometimes parents disagree about whose surname a child should have.  Texas family law allows a court to order a name change for a child if the change is in the child’s best interest.  Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 45.004.  Additionally, when a court adjudicates parentage, it may order a name change if a parent requests it and “for good cause shown.”  Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 160.636.  Some appeals courts have held that those are two distinct tests, while others have held that the child’s best interest is necessarily good cause and simply determine if the change would be in the child’s best interest even when the name change is requested pursuant to § 160.636.

A mother recently appealed a court order changing her son’s surname to that of his father.

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