House Bill 178
149th General Assembly (Present)
Becomes effective upon date of signature of the Governor or upon date specified
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 10 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO MINORS' PETITIONS FOR NAME CHANGE.
The children of parents who divorce or were never married often share a surname with only one parent, which may lead to confusion or hardship when schools, doctors, or others fail to recognize the child’s connection with the parent with whom the child does not share a similar surname. Parents and children in such circumstances have compelling reason to seek to add a second surname to the child’s name. Delaware law currently provides that a petition to change a minor’s surname should be granted if there are no reasons for not granting the petition. This standard applies to changing a minor’s name, regardless of whether the change is to eliminate and replace an existing surname or simply add a second surname, and also puts the burden on the petitioning parent to demonstrate that the petition should be granted. This Act separates circumstance in which a parent seeks to replace a minor’s surname from those in which a parent seeks to add to the minor’s surname, by establishing a presumption in favor of granting a petition to add a parent’s surname to a minor’s surname either as an additional name or hyphenated with the minor’s previously existing surname. The presumption in favor of granting the petition may be overcome by the opposing parent establishing by clear and convincing evidence that the consideration of several, specific factors demonstrate that granting the petition would cause the minor more harm than benefit. The factors specified in this Act are taken from the larger list of factors which Delaware Courts have developed through case law to consider when determining whether to grant a petition to change a minor’s surname and do not include the factors which are relevant only when a parent seeks to replace, rather than add to, the minor’s surname.