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Giant Baby
08-14-2010, 05:17 AM
Hi all!

I have a couple who are going to kill each other (this occurs about twenty-five years ago, when one of my MC's was three-years-old). I'd like the final crisis to rise up out of the mother finding a new birth certificate for their son in the mail. The father (who is her husband) has changed the child's name without her knowledge or consent. It's obviously a volitile relationship, and the child's name has been the spark to the powder keg since his birth.

I've been researching Massachusetts law about this, but I'm not sure I understand what I've found. In this (http://www.masslegalservices.org/system/files/Chapter+15+Final.pdf) document, on p. 423 (or p. 3 of the document), it states that if the parents cannot agree, the court will decide the name for the child. But, on p. 426, in the last item, it states that the document must be signed by the mother *or* father of the minor child.

Am I correct in reading that one parent could change a child's name behind the back of the other? There is language discussing that a parent can object, but they'd have to know about it to object, right? Legal language confuses me.

This doesn't have to be the thing they kill each other over--it's back story, and they could just kill each other over a fight to have the name changed--but, I really prefer the father do this behind the mother's back if it's something he could get away with. I'd like the MC to know his name is not the name he first identified as his own, but doesn't remember what his true name was.

frimble3
08-14-2010, 12:10 PM
Don't know about the law in Massachusetts, but something like this happened to my father in the 1930's. When he was born, his parents 'agreed' on a name. On the way to record the name, his father decided to change the middle name, so he filled in the papers with the new name and never told anyone. My dad grew up thinking his middle name was the original choice. It was when he was an adult, applying for something with a government form that he discovered that he really had a different name. So he changed his 'legal' name to the one he had always used. No-one was killed, but his parents separated when my dad was a boy. (Middle name had more significance, because it was the kind of family where there's only a couple of preferred names, and much use of middle names and nicknames to differentiate.)

PeterL
08-14-2010, 05:47 PM
As frimble mentioned, it is easy to change a child's name without the knowledge of the other parent. The matter of who signs the form is a little different, since someone has to look at the form.

There is also the mater that one's name is what one calls oneself. An adult can change his name at any time.

Giant Baby
08-14-2010, 07:11 PM
Thank you, Frimble and Peter! I love it when the correct answer and the answer I want are one in the same!