Changing Child’s Last Name in Arizona


Izabela Anderson has appealed an order from the court that reduced her parenting time, changed her child’s last name, and changed her child’s school.

It is important to know that to modify a parenting time order in Arizona, it is imperative there be a change in circumstances affecting the welfare of the child. if a substantial and continuing change in circumstances is established, the judge must find that the substantial and continuing change in circumstances supports a change to the parenting time schedule, which is in the best interests of the parties’ child.

Izabela Anderson claims that an increase in her parenting time is in the child’s best interest because of her child’s speech impairment. She also argued an increase in her parenting time would help to establish a more consistent school schedule. Judge Margaret H. Downie of the Arizona Court of Appeals (division one) declared that speech delays do not meet the specific requirements of A.R.S § 25-403, but agreed that the child should be in a consistent school program. Although the child had significant speech delays, this Arizona Court of Appeals did not believe that impairment constituted a substantial and continuing change in circumstances.

Next, the mother challenges the order, which changed her child’s last name from “Anderson” to “Petrocelli-Anderson”. The mother argues that a request to have the child’s surname changed cannot be considered because the father’s previous requests were denied. The Arizona Court of Appeals disagreed on the basis that circumstances may change making such a name change in the child’s best interest in the future. The standard with respect to a name change is that the court must find the name change to be in the child’s best interests.


Changing Child’s Name in Arizona | Factors a Court Considers

There are numerous factors in Arizona that determine whether or not a name change is truly in a child’s best interest including (1) the child’s preference, (2) the effect that the change will have on the relationship and development of the child with his/her parents, (3) the length of time the child has borne his or her current name, (4) the difficulties, embarrassment and harassment the child may receive from bearing the name, (5) the motive of the parents requesting a name change, and (6) whether or not there is a possibility of insecurity or identity loss associated with the name change.

Because there is a long history of hostility and animosity between the two parties, Judge Margaret H. Downie declared that the name change would be in the child’s best interest, because it will help to promote a healthy relationship between both the parents and the child. The child’s last name was formally changed from “Anderson” to “Petrocelli-Anderson”. The court states for the record that the child is of such a young age (4 years old) that a name change would not affect his social life very much. The court also states for the record that the child’s preference was not evident throughout the process, so it could not be taken into consideration.