In the Matter of the Application of J. M. M. o/b/o Minors for a Change of Name
County District Court File No. 27-CV-15-18151
Katherine S. Barrett Wiik, George D. Carroll, Mohammadee
Summra Shariff, Robins Kaplan LLP, Minneapolis, Minnesota
(for appellant J.M.M.)
S. Alexander, Battered Women's Legal Advocacy Project,
Minneapolis, Minnesota (for amicus curiae Battered
Women's Legal Advocacy Project)
Considered and decided by Reyes, Presiding Judge; Johnson,
Judge; and Smith, Tracy M., Judge.
Stat. § 259.10, subd. 1 (2016), does not require an
applicant-parent to provide notice of a name-change
application filed on behalf of a minor child to a biological
parent who does not have a legally recognized relationship
with the child under the Minnesota Parentage Act, Minn. Stat.
§§ 257.51-.74 (2016).
TRACY M., Judge
J.M.M. applied to the district court to change the surnames
of her three minor children. The Minnesota Change of Name
Act, Minn. Stat. §§ 259.10-.13 (2016), provides
that a minor child's name may not be changed without
"both parents" having notice of the application,
"whenever practicable, as determined by the court."
Minn. Stat. § 259.10, subd. 1. The district court
dismissed J.M.M.'s name-change applications, without
prejudice, because J.M.M. did not provide notice to the
children's biological father.
appeal, J.M.M. argues that the district court (1) erred in
interpreting Minn. Stat. § 259.10, subd. 1, to require
her to provide notice to the children's biological father
and (2) abused its discretion in concluding that it was
practicable to provide notice to the biological father. We
conclude that the district court erred in determining that
the statute required J.M.M. to provide notice to the
children's biological father. We therefore do not reach
the issue of whether such notice was practicable. We reverse
J.M.M. is the mother of three minor children, ages six, four,
and two at the time of the applications, who share a
biological father. The biological father is not listed on the
children's birth certificates, but the children share his
surname. J.M.M. and the biological father have never been
married, and no court has ever adjudicated the paternity of
the children. The biological father does not pay child
support, has not seen any of the children since March 2013,
and has not met the youngest child.
filed name-change applications on behalf of each of her minor
children, requesting that each child's surname be changed
from the biological father's surname to J.M.M.'s
surname. Staff at the Hennepin County Self-Help Center
provided J.M.M. with an application form and informed her
that she was not required to provide notice to the biological
father if paternity had not been previously established.
Based on that information, J.M.M. wrote "no other legal
parent" in the space asking her to provide the
"name and last known address of the non-applicant