Divorce During Pregnancy: What Should the Child’s Surname Be When the Parents Are Divorcing or Separating?
When a couple is expecting a child during a time when the relationship is ending, there are many issues both emotional and financial to address: Even the child’s surname can become a sticking point. Luckily, New Jersey law sets some parameters around the issue of divorce during pregnancy.
What the State of New Jersey Says About Surnames
When parents cannot agree, the New Jersey administrative code dictates how the child’s surname is decided.
The code stipulates the following:
- If one of the parents is unavailable, the child’s name will be the sole responsibility of the parent who has custody of the child.
- If, however, both parents have custody and are available, but disagree on the child’s surname, then the surname will consist of both parents’ choices, separated by a dash, in alphabetical order
- The parents have five days after the birth of their child to decide on a surname. If they do not do so, the child’s surname will consist of both parents’ last names, separated by a dash, in alphabetical order.
If a Name Change Arises in the Context of a Divorce or Custody Litigation
Relatedly, if a request to change a child’s name arises in the context of a divorce or custody litigation, below are some factors a Court may consider in deciding that request:
- The length of time the child has been using his or her current surname.
- The child’s identification with a particular family unit.
- Potential Anxiety, embarrassment, or discomfort that may result from having a different surname from a custodial parent.
- The child’s preference if the child is mature enough to express a preference.
- Parental misconduct or neglect, including a failure to provide support or maintain contact with the child.
- Degree of community respect, or lack thereof, associated with either the parental or maternal name.
- Improper motivation on the part of the parent seeking the name change.
- Whether the mother has changed or intends to change her name upon remarriage.
- Whether the child has a strong relationship with any siblings with different names.
- Whether the surname has important ties to family heritage or ethnic identity.
- The effect of a name change on the relationship between the child and each parent.
Contact a Divorce Lawyer Today
Getting a divorce during pregnancy poses a special set of challenges to each spouse. While the question of the child’s surname may be a point of conflict upon the child’s birth or subsequently, we are here to help you resolve the issue.
At Lazor Rantas, PC, we have many years’ experience helping divorcing couples in all types of situations. To learn more about the particular challenges that come with children and divorce—or for any other questions you might have—do not hesitate to give us a call at 973-457-8844 or to fill out the contact form below.
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