Case Caption: In re Kristen Leigh Reynolds Change of NameCase Number: S. Ct. Civ. No. 2013-0031Date: 12/17/2013Author: Cabret, Maria M. Citation: Summary:

The Superior Court's denial of a petition for a name change, in which the applicant sought to change her last name to match that of her same-sex partner, the order denying her petition is vacated and the petition is remanded for further proceedings. Under 16 V.I.C. §§ 181 and 182, a name change petition is not required to specifically outline the reasons for the requested change, but the language of § 181 makes it clear that the burden of showing sufficient reasons for the name change is upon on the petitioner. The statute necessarily contemplates an evidentiary hearing by the Superior Court before granting or denying a name change, in order to provide the petitioner with an opportunity to meet this burden. To the extent the Superior Court in the present case required more information before conducting a hearing-such as the petitioner's partner's full name-in order to ensure that this partner is aware of the proceedings and has the chance to appear as provided by § 182, the court could have given petitioner an opportunity to amend the petition. Consequently, the Superior Court abused its discretion in summarily denying the name-change petition without providing an opportunity for amendment or the holding of a hearing as required by 16 V.I.C. §§ 181 and 182. The Superior Court's April 12, 2013 Order is vacated, the name-change petition is reinstated, and this matter is remanded for further proceedings.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion