Let’s first take a broader look at the standards of review in all different types of family law cases. There are varying standards in laws relating to children.
When it comes to child custody, the standard is the children’s best interests.
When custody is sought to be modified, the standard is whether there has been a material change to warrant applying the best interests test.
When a non-biological parent is seeking custody or visitation, the standard to apply is whether any extraordinary circumstances warrant it.
When it comes to changing a name, the standard is even higher, whether any extreme circumstances warrant the name change. I am pretty sure what the courts mean to “extreme circumstances” is that a parent is in jail for a heinous crime, or something pretty similar to it that will result in the child not having the ability to have a normalized life moving forward if bearing that name.
For example, think about the recent terrorists who were killed by law enforcement in CA. They left behind a 6 month old baby. If the new guardian of that child applied for a name change, under Maryland law, I think the court would look favorably due to the stigma attached to the name. Think of O.J. Simpson, any serial killer, etc…
So, if you are thinking about this, let the above be your guide, and then give a call to one of the attorneys at SIEGELLAW, where we can provide you with a thorough education to better understand your options and how to move forward.