Vol. 14, No. 4, Pg. 40. An overview of the amended name change statute.

AuthorBy Emma I. Bryson and John O. McDougall

South Carolina Lawyer


Vol. 14, No. 4, Pg. 40.

An overview of the amended name change statute

40An overview of the amended name change statuteBy Emma I. Bryson and John O. McDougallThe family court bench and citizens of South Carolina should welcome the new amended version of S.C. Code Ann. § 1549-10, the statute governing name changes. The amended statute retains judicial discretion but also requires a background check before a person can petition the court for a name change. In addition to the increased burden of proof for the petitioner, the amendment requires the clerk of court to notify the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, South Carolina Department of Social Services or the Department of Corrections of name changes when appropriate.

41Previously processed through the circuit court, name changes have been processed through the family court since 1990. In the past, family court judges have lacked the information needed to determine whether a petitioner's request for a name change was a legitimate request an attempt to avoid existing legal obligations such as child support payments or an attempt to otherwise elude authorities. The new procedures give the court the information it needs to identify the petitioner's true interests in seeking a name change. In addition, other branches of the legal system were previously not advised of name changes, making it easier for criminals to abuse the system. Now the court is required to make the proper notifications.

Family court practitioners, for the most part, will not be affected by the amendment. Name changes for minors pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 15-49-10(B) (Supp. 2000) and for adults seeking name changes relating to marriage or divorce are exempt from these new procedures. (S.C. Code Ann. § 15-49-10(B) (Supp. 2000) provides as follows: (B) A parent who desires to change the name of his minor child may petition, in writing, a family court judge in the appropriate circuit. The other parent, if there is not one[,] then the child, must be named as a party in the action unless waived by the court. The court shall appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the child. The court shall grant the petition if it finds that it is in the best interest of the child.)

Text of amended statute

Effective since July 20, 2002, the new statute reads as follows, with practical...

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