- Associated Press - Friday, October 10, 2014

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The Nebraska Supreme Court has reversed the decision of a lower court that ordered a boy’s last name be changed to that of his biological father.

The high court ruled Friday that the lower court wrongly gave preference to the paternal surname over what was in the best interests of the child.

The case concerns a boy listed in the ruling as “Connor H.” whose parents were not married when he was born in 2008. He was given his mother’s last name on the birth certificate.

Both the mother and father later married other people, and in 2012, both petitioned to have the boy’s last name changed. The father wanted the boy to have his last name. The mother sought to have the boy’s name changed to her new married surname, saying the boy had asked to change his surname to those of his mother, stepfather and younger half-sister.

The boy “would feel more part of the family and feel like he belongs if he could have the same last name as everybody that he lives with,” his mother testified.

Johnson County District Judge Daniel Bryan Jr. granted the father’s request, saying it made more sense to change the boy’s name to that of his biological father than the name of his stepfather.

“I think that’s like a de facto adoption,” the judge said. “I’m not going to do that; that would just simply be wrong.”

But the Nebraska Supreme Court said Friday that while both parents offered testimony giving their respective reasons for wanting to change the boy’s name, neither parent presented evidence that changing the boy’s last name from his mother’s former name was in his best interest.

“In the future, Connor may very well decide that he wants to change his surname,” Justice William Cassel wrote for the high court.

Messages left Friday for the parents’ attorneys seeking comment were not immediately returned.

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