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Posted on: May 20, 2016

Court of Appeals Upholds Changing Child's Last Name to Father's 4 Years after Initial Order Establishing Paternity

By Richard A. Mann, Richard A. Mann, PC

The Indiana Court of Appeals on May 11, 2016, upheld the Warrick Superior Court's decision changing a child's last name from the maternal name to the paternal name. In the case of Leslie and Farmer, 87A01-1508-JP-1164, the trial court ruled that based upon current case law the court felt it had to grant the request. The interesting and unusual fact of this case was that the Father admitted that he had previously been informed by his counsel that he could have asked for the name change sooner but did not do so for tactical reasons. The parties had originally been to court and the order establishing paternity was issued July 20, 2011. The child was born August 30, 2010. The parties were then in court over contempt and modification issues without either party raising the issue of name change. Typically the family name or last name in a paternity action is addressed in the initial paternity order. The Court of Appeals even commented that the parties had agreed in February 2011, that only one issue was open for the court to address and that was who would supervise Father's parenting time.

As a result of this case, more Fathers may be filing name change petitions after the original paternity order is entered.

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