When people ask me why I chose to practice family law is that it allows me to help families through very difficult times. Another reason is that family law deals with a wide range of issues that have impacts which extend beyond my particular client.
One such issue was recently addressed for the first time in a New Jersey court. The controversy centered around whether a parent would be able to implement a name change for a transgendered child. The child was given a name at birth that corresponded with their physical sexual identity. Later on, as it became apparent the child was transgendered, a request was made to allow the child to adopt a name that corresponded with their true sexual identity. In determining how to make such a decision, the court determined that the “best interests of the child” standard should apply.
For a summary of this case, see the following summary from the NJ Law Journal.
20-3-3621 Sacklow v. Betts, N.J. Super. Ch. Div. (Silva, J.S.C.) (17 pp.) This opinion addresses an issue of first impression before the court; the standard to apply to a transgender minor child’s name change application. The court finds that the best interest of the child standard should govern the court’s decision and that the following factors should be considered when determining whether a name change is in the minor child’s best interest, where the minor child is transgender and wishes to assume a name they believe corresponds to the gender they identify with: (1) the age of the child; (2) the length of time the child has used the preferred name; (3) any potential anxiety, embarrassment or discomfort that may result from the child having a name he or she believes does not match his or her outward appearance and gender identity; (4) the history of any medical or mental health counseling the child has received; (5) the name the child is known by in his or her family, school and community; (6) the child’s preference and motivations for seeking the name change; and (7) whether both parents consent to the name change, and if consent is not given, the reason for withholding consent. After analyzing these factors in light of the testimony and facts presented in the case before the court, plaintiff’s motion to legally change Veronica’s name to Trevor was granted. (Approved for Publication)