In a case of first impression in New Jersey, the mother of a 16- year-old minor has been granted the right to legally change his first name from Veronica to Trevor. The court’s decision in the matter of Sacklow v. Betts was approved for publication on June 28, 2017 which gives it enhanced status in the legal community.
Because the case involves a minor child and his parents share legal custody – and disagree to some extent as to whether he should be permitted to change his name from Veronica to Trevor – the court exercised its role as parens patriae. In doing so, the court made its own findings of fact to determine to whether the name change is in Trevor’s best interests.
The court’s ruling focused upon whether the proposed name change is in the best interests of the child given the application of the following factors:
- the age of the child,
- the length of time the child has used the preferred name,
- the existence of any anxiety or embarrassment that may result from the child having a name he or she believes does not match his or her gender identity,
- the history of any counseling the child has received,
- the name the child is known by in his or her family, school, and community,
- the child’s preference and motivations for seeking the name change, and,
- whether both parents consent to the name change or the reason for withholding consent.
In reaching its decision the court relied on a wide body of social science research which will no doubt continue to influence future cases involving transgender issues.