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Changing a Child's Last Name in Arizona.

Step #1: There Must be a Substantial and Continuing Change of Circumstances to Change a Child’s Last Name in Arizona

Ms. 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 if doing so is found by the judge to be in the best interests of the parties’ child.

In this case, the same analysis was done by the trial court when determining whether to change the child’s last name. Specifically, the court first needs to find the existence of a substantial and continuing change in circumstances to change the child’s last name and then must determine if it is in the child’s best interest to change the child’s last name.

Mother challenges the judge’s order which changed the child’s last name from “Anderson” to “Petrocelli-Anderson”. 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.

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Step #2: Changing the Child’s Last Name Must be Found by a Judge to be in the Child’s Best Interests

Once a parent first establishes there is a substantial and continuing change in circumstances for the court to consider changing the child’s last name in an Arizona family law case, the judge then has to decide whether it is actually in the child’s best interests to change his or her last name.

Step #3: Analyzing the Required Factors a Judge is Required to Consider to Determine Whether a Change to a Child’s Last Name Is In the Child’s Best Interests

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 new 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.

Step #4: The Analysis in This Case Leading to the Judge Ordering a Change to a Child’s Last Name in Arizona

Because there was an alleged long history of hostility and animosity between the two parents, the Judge 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 stated 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.

Step #5: Hire Our Arizona Attorneys to Handle Your Case Involving a Request to Change a Child’s Last Name in an Arizona Child Custody Case

If you have questions about changing a child’s last name in Arizona, you should seriously consider contacting the attorneys at Hildebrand Law, PC. Our Arizona child custody and family law attorneys have decades of combined experience successfully representing clients in child custody and family law cases.

Our family law firm has earned numerous awards such as US News and World Reports Best Arizona Family Law Firm, US News and World Report Best Divorce Attorneys, “Best of the Valley” by Arizona Foothills readers, and “Best Arizona Divorce Law Firms” by North Scottsdale Magazine.

Call us today at (480)305-8300 or reach out to us through our appointment scheduling form to schedule your personalized consultation and turn your child custody or family law case around today.

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