What’s in a Name?

            Changing a child’s name is an issue that comes up frequently in paternity actions.  Sometimes one parent will not have had any input in selecting a child’s name and will want changes to the entire name.  More frequently the dispute will be on what last name the child should have. 

            A.R.S. §12-601 governs changing a name in Arizona.  This statute requires the party requesting a change of name for a child to avow that he or she has not been convicted of a felony or convicted of a crime involving false statements or misrepresentations about another person’s identity.  The movant must also affirm that the name change is not requested for the purpose of furthering or committing a crime, to release the child or the parent from financial obligations, or to harm a property right in the child’s original name.

            Additionally, when a name change is requested on behalf of a child, and the parents are not in agreement on the name, the family law judge must also consider the factors outlined in Pizziconi v. Yarborough, 868 P.2d 1005 (1993).  Division One of the Arizona Court of Appeals directed the court to consider the following:

            A.        The child’s preference

B.         The effect of the change on the preservation and development of the child’s relationship with each parent

            C.         The length of time the child has borne a given name

D.        The difficulties, harassment, or embarrassment that the child may experience from bearing the present or proposed name

            E.         The motive of the parents

F.         The possibility that the use of a different name will cause insecurity or lack of identity

            The court will utilize these factors and any other relevant information to determine what name is in the best interests of the child.

-Erin Fox

Tis the Season….to Check Your Child Support Payment History

Every parent paying child support should have one item on his or her to-do list beyond wrapping the Christmas presents and planning the holiday celebrations – check to make sure that you are current on your child support obligation for the year.

            The Arizona Child Support Guidelines and the vast majority of Child Support Orders entitle a parent to claim a dependency exemption when it is the parent’s turn for that exemption ONLY IF all support payments due during the year have been made by December 31.  This means that if you are supposed to claim your kid on taxes for 2017, your right to do so is conditioned on being current in your support obligation.  If December 31 comes and goes with a support obligation outstanding, the other parent will get to claim the exemption, and you will still owe the support (plus ten percent interest!).

            For parents that owe child support arrears or past care and support obligations, be aware that this limitation does not mean that you have to pay the entire judgment within the year to be allowed to claim a dependency exemption.  Instead, the court looks at whether you have paid the monthly amount due on the obligation to decide if you are entitled to the dependency exemption.

            Even parents who pay through Income Withholding Orders where the money is automatically deducted through paychecks should be wary, particularly if child support has been adjusted during the year.  It is very common for a payment to be missed or be incomplete when new support paperwork is being entered, and often time the paying parent has no idea that the total amount of support due was not paid.

            Do yourself a favor and give yourself the gift of ensuring your entitlement to a dependency exemption.  Check to make sure you are current in your support obligation for the year now so you have enough time to correct any problems before the end of the year.

Erin K. Fox certified by the State Bar of Arizona

        McNorton Fox PLLC is pleased to announce that Erin K. Fox has been certified by the State Bar of Arizona as a Family Law Specialist.  The State Bar of Arizona states that this designation “identifies lawyers who have demonstrated superior knowledge, skill, integrity, professionalism, and competence” in the area of family law.  Ms. Fox joins a select group of attorneys (including Lisa C. McNorton) who have achieved this recognition.