This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. ß 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 02-19746
Beverly K. Dodge, William D. Siegel, Barna, Guzy & Steffen, Ltd., 200 Coon Rapids Boulevard, Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN† 55433 (for appellant)
Gretchen S. Schellhas, Matthew A. Drewes, Thomsen & Nybeck, P.A., 3300 Edinborough Way, Suite 600, Edina, MN† 55435 (for respondent)
††††††††††† Considered and decided by Wright, Presiding Judge, Harten, Judge, and Anderson, Judge.
Julie Ann Bauer challenges the district courtís denial of her motion to change the last name of the partiesí child, arguing that (1) the district court improperly declined to consider the wishes of the child and (2) the district courtís findings are unsupported by the record.† We affirm.
P.S.B. was born August 23, 1991, during the marriage of appellant Julie Ann Bauer (formerly Julie Ann Bain), and respondent Scott Bain.† The marriage was dissolved, and appellant married Ron Bauer in July 2001.† P.S.B. subsequently began using Bain-Bauer and Bauer as his last name interchangeably on his school assignments and sports jerseys.† At respondentís request, his attorney sent appellant a letter asking her to stop referring to P.S.B. by any surname other than Bain.† Shortly thereafter, appellant filed an application on behalf of P.S.B. to change his surname to Bain-Bauer, which respondent opposed.† On the date of the hearing, appellant brought P.S.B. to court to testify as to his surname preference.† But the district court ruled that it was not in P.S.B.ís best interests to testify.† The district court subsequently issued an order denying the application for a name change.† This appeal followed.†
Appellant also argues that the district court abused its discretion when it denied the application to change P.S.B.ís surname.† When the proper legal standard is applied, we will not reverse the district courtís decision to grant or deny an application for a name change if the evidence reasonably supports the determination.† Id. at 301.† Appellant argues for a lower legal standard than that established in Robinson.† This position was first advanced by Justice Wahlís well-reasoned dissent in Saxton.† The Saxton dissent, however, was rejected by the Saxton majority.† Id. at 302.†
On review, we conclude that the district court applied the correct legal standard, and the record supports the district courtís conclusion that there is not clear and compelling evidence that the ďsubstantial welfare of the child necessitatesĒ the proposed name change.† Robinson, 302 Minn. at 36, 223 N.W.2d at 140. †The district court considered all of the Saxton best interests factors, except the childís preference.† Finding that P.S.B. has had his fatherís surname for twelve years, the district court determined that this was a significant period of time for P.S.B to develop a sense of identity through his name.† The record supports the district courtís conclusion that the proposed name change would weaken P.S.B.ís relationship with his father.† The evidence establishes that the name change likely would alienate respondent from P.S.B.† Conversely, there is no evidence that appellantís relationship with P.S.B. would be negatively affected if the name change did not occur.† The district courtís finding that no difference exists in the potential for harassment or embarrassment if P.S.B. retains his original last name or changes it to a hyphenated version of his parentsí last names likewise is supported by the record.†
In the absence of clear and compelling evidence that P.S.B.ís substantial welfare necessitates the name change, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying appellantís application.