Saturday, September 30, 2023
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Sweet Surname o’ Mine

(CN) - A child's last name cannot be changed to conform to the "tradition" that children share their fathers' surnames, a Texas appeals court ruled.

David Chalifoux and Amber Brittain had a son together in 2009, although they did not marry. The child was given his mother's surname at birth.

Although the couple worked out arrangements for child support and visitation, they could not agree on the child's surname, and Chalifoux took legal action so that it matched his own.

Chalifoux testified that it would in the child's best interest, and that it is "tradition" for him to pass his surname down to his child.

Brittain countered that it is also tradition for children to share their surnames with the members of their households. In this case, the child's mother and brother are Brittains.

Agreeing with Chalifoux, a Harris County judge ordered the patrilineal name change. But the Houston-based 14th Court of Appeals overturned the decision on March 1, ruling that the child's name should not change.

"Chalifoux, as the parent seeking the change, needed to provide some evidence that a change would be in the child's interest or that Brittain's surname would be detrimental," Justice Sharon McCally wrote on behalf of the court. "He did not identify any particular reason why keeping the Brittain surname would be detrimental or harmful to the child, and he presented no evidence on whether the name change would help avoid embarrassment or confusion for the child, whether either name was more or less respected in the community, whether the child would be more likely to associate with the family unit using the Chalifoux surname or whether Brittain desired to impair the father-son bond."

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