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Child’s best interest includes having father’s surname

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A noncustodial father’s active participation in his son’s life convinced the Indiana Court of Appeals that giving the father’s surname to the minor was in the best interest of the child.

The trial court denied the petition for change of name, ruling because the child, N.C.G., had gone by his mother’s surname for more than two years, giving the minor a new last name would not be in his best interest.

The father appealed, asserting the conclusions of the trial court “derived from findings of fact are clearly erroneous.” He told the court he had been trying to get his son’s name changed since the child was born. However, he had been unsuccessfully because he could not settle the issue with the child’s mother.  

In In Re: The Paternity of: N.C.G., B.G. v N.G., 02A04-1301-JP-21, the Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with the father. It reversed the trial court and remanded with instructions that the trial court enter an order changing N.C.G’s surname to the father’s.

The Court of Appeals pointed to recent cases, namely C.B. v B.W., 985 N.E.2d 340, 348 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013) and Petersen v Burton, 871 N.E.2d 1025, 1029 (Ind. Ct. App. 2007), which held that it is in the child’s best interest to carry the father’s surname when the adult pays child support and actively participates in the minor’s life.

“Similarly, as observed in C.B., having a father’s surname under circumstances such as those presented in the instant case is in a child’s best interest because it is a tangible reminder that the child has two parents,” Judge John Baker wrote for the court.

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  1. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

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