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Can a Transgender Minor Legally Change His or Her Name?

In a case of first impression in New Jersey, the mother of a 16- year-old minor has been granted the right to legally change his first name from Veronica to Trevor. The court’s decision in the matter of Sacklow v. Betts was approved for publication on June 28, 2017 which gives it enhanced status in the legal community.

Because the case involves a minor child and his parents share legal custody – and disagree to some extent as to whether he should be permitted to change his name from Veronica to Trevor – the court exercised its role as parens patriae. In doing so, the court made its own findings of fact to determine to whether the name change is in Trevor’s best interests.

The court’s ruling focused upon whether the proposed name change is in the best interests of the child given the application of the following factors:

  • the age of the child,

  • the length of time the child has used the preferred name,

  • the existence of any anxiety or embarrassment that may result from the child having a name he or she believes does not match his or her gender identity,

  • the history of any counseling the child has received,

  • the name the child is known by in his or her family, school, and community,

  • the child’s preference and motivations for seeking the name change, and,

  • whether both parents consent to the name change or the reason for withholding consent.

In reaching its decision the court relied on a wide body of social science research which will no doubt continue to influence future cases involving transgender issues.

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COPYRIGHT © 2021, STARK & STARKNational Law Review, Volume VII, Number 187
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About this Author

John S. Eory, Stark and Stark Law, Divorce Lawyer, Family Attorney
Shareholder

John S. Eory is a Shareholder and Co-Chair of Stark & Stark’s Divorce Group. John limits his practice to divorce, custody, domestic violence and other family law matters. He is the former Chair of the New Jersey Supreme Court District VII Ethics Committee. John is a lecturer for the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education and the New Jersey Association for Justice and has appeared as a speaker on television and radio with regard to family law topics. John was selected by the Mercer County Bar Association and the New Jersey Commission on Professionalism in...

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