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In re Pederson

Court of Common Pleas of Delaware, New Castle

October 27, 2017

IN THE MATTER OF: JOBY SEBASTIAN PEDERSON, Petitioner, TO JOBY SEBASTIAN QUANTMEYER,

         CHANGE OF NAME

          Submitted Date: October 9, 2017

          Amanda L. H. Brinton, Esquire Attorney for Meredith Pedersen, Respondent.

          Mr. Kevin E. Quantmeyer Pro-Se Petitioner, Petitioner.

          FINAL ORDER AND OPINION

          John K. Welch, Judge.

         This is the Court's Final Order and Opinion in the above-captioned matter following the hearing that took place on Monday, October 9, 2017. Following the conclusion and receipt of testimony and evidence, the Court reserved decision.

         I. Introduction

         Kevin Quantmeyer ("Petitioner") has filed a Name Change Petition with the Civil Clerk of the Court. Petitioner is seeking to change the name of his son Joby Sebastian Pedersen, his minor child, who he shares custody with respondent to reflect the last name "Quantmeyer" in lieu of "Pedersen, " the respondent's last name. Petitioner asserts in his Petition under paragraph 4 that the reasons for the proposed name change is the mother's surname may change with marriage and desire for father and son to have the same surname. In accordance with the requirements of Civil Rule 81(c) and 10 Del.C. $5901 Petitioner certifies he has no creditors, or other persons who would be defrauded or adversely affected by the proposed name change. The Petition was published under paragraph 6 in the News Journal for three (3) consecutive weeks. Petitioner also asserts that he has no pending criminal charges; is not on probation and parole; and finally under paragraph 9 that he is not currently required to register with the State Police or any law enforcement agency.

         The issue to be decided by this Court is whether petitioner has proven by a preponderance of the evidence at trial that it would be in the best interest of his child Joby to have his last name changed to Quantmeyer.

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court concludes that the best interest and welfare of the child would be to deny the petition and petitioner has not proven his case-in-chief by a preponderance of the evidence.

         II. The Facts

         The Court received sworn testimony and evidence at the hearing. Before counsel and the prose petitioner testified, the Court detailed in the record the preponderance of evidence standard and the relevant ten (10) factors that may to be considered by the Court following sworn testimony and evidence as to whether the best interest standard has, or has not, been proven by a preponderance of the evidence.

         Kevin Quantmeyer offered evidence to the Court. He is making child support payments as mandated by the Court. He lives in Maryland, not Pennsylvania and travels to Delaware to see his minor child Joby. Petitioner testified any time Ms. Pedersen needs medical help or appointments he "shows up" and believes that having his child's last name as Quantmeyer should be granted because as a male they would share his last name. Petitioner believes that he would be better bonded with the child Joby if the petition was granted and would even compromise to allow the Court to have the name bi-furcated. Petitioner testified he has made several email requests to respondent and that she has failed to respond to his request to have the last name changed. Petitioner testified he paid child support before the Order of the Court and began sending money for the child's diapers before any formal Court Order was made in Family Court for child support. His child is now two and a half years and he desires to have Joby bear his last name. Petitioner has visitations with his son, which include weekends and he regularly pays child support. Petitioner believes that no one within his family believes Joby is his son because Joby does not bear the last name of his father, but bears the last name of his mother.

         On cross-examination four (4) different exhibits were offered into evidence by respondent.[1]

         On further cross-examination petitioner admits that the photograph on Facebook was a picture of a Quantmeyer jersey on his son.

         On cross-examination petitioner testified he refers to his son as Sebastian, not Joby, his actual name. On further cross-examination, Exhibit 3 was a scrapbook picture offered into evidence from Petitioner's Facebook page indicating Joby's name was Sebastian. Petitioner also conceded that he has a history of mental illness and was treated for severe depression previously. He has sought all necessary treatment and responded fully. Petitioner also conceded he has a history of speeding tickets.

         The respondent presented her case-in-chief. Respondent resides at 417 Marconi Drive in Wilmington, 19803. Respondent works full time and has a bachelor's degree in Architecture and is not engaged or married, nor is she planning to change Joby's name, even if she is married or engaged, which she indicated she is not contemplating. Joby's last name has been Pedersen his entire life. Petitioner has custody every other weekend and Fridays in the summer. Petitioner did not pay child support the first year and she told him to recalculate his payments based upon the support calculation.[2] The $200.00 petitioner pays the respondent is sometimes late. Respondent never knew "whether or not it was coming" and that the child support calculation by BSE should be much higher. Respondent testified she had a two and a half month relationship with the Petitioner and he had told her about his suicide attempts and allegedly followed her . around on his bike allegedly crying, which she believes details his mental health issues. Respondent claims the child support order was entered years ago and at that time petitioner did not ask for Joby's name to be changed to Quantmeyer. Respondent also carries medical benefits for Joby and has signed him up for daycare. Respondent schedules all Joby's doctor appointments.

         According to respondent, petitioner did not show up for multiple doctor appointments. Respondent disagrees that petitioner's granting of the name change to Quantmeyer would not prohibit petitioner from bonding with his son. Respondent further testified that she is unaware that anyone calls Joby by the name of Sebastian, as his name is Joby. Respondent is adamantly opposed the Name Change petition being granted by the Court.

         III. The Law

Sec. 5901. Petition for change of name.
(a) Any person who desires to change his or her name, shall present a petition, duly verified, to the Court of Common Pleas sitting in the county in which the person resides. The petition shall set forth such person's name and the name he or she desires to assume.
Sec. 5902. Requirements for minor's petitions.
If the name sought to be changed under this chapter is that of a minor, the petition shall be signed by at least one of the minor's parents, if there is a parent living, or if both parents are dead, by the legal guardian of such minor. When the minor is over the age of 14, the petition shall also be signed by the minor.
Sec. 5903. Publication of petition prior to filing.
No petition for change of name under this chapter shall be granted unless it affirmatively appears that the petition has been published in a newspaper published in the county in which the proceedings is had, at least ...

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