More About the “Name Game”

Holst-Knudsen v. Mikisch, 424 N.J. Super. 590 (App. Div. 2012).  In Emma v. Evans, 424 N.J. Super. 36 (App. Div. 2012), a panel of the Appellate Division addressed the issue of a name change for a child born in wedlock and ruled that “the presumption in favor of the parent of primary residence when seeking, over the other parent’s objection, a change in the surname of a child,” did not apply to children born in wedlock.  That opinion was written by Judge Fisher.  In the present case, a different panel, in an opinion by Judge Ashrafi, differed with Emma to some extent.  Judge Ashrafi’s opinion stated that the panel did not “view the Supreme Court’s holdings as making a distinction between children born out of wedlock and those born to married parents.” 

At several places in the opinion, which ultimately reversed the Family Part’s denial of a name change and remanded to that court for further consideration in line with Supreme Court precedent, the panel referred to what the Supreme Court “might consider” about aspects of this issue.  Those statements are practically suggestions that the Supreme Court should address the different viewpoints expressed here and in Emma.  Whether Supreme Court review will be sought or granted remains to be seen.  But it would not be surprising to see the Court make another pronouncement on this subject, in order to eliminate any daylight between the results in Emma and in this case.