RE: IN THE MATTER OF NOVA ANGELINA PEREZ-VEGA TO NOVA ANGELINA VEGA
Submitted: June 18, 2018
Vega 101 Hagerty Place Townsend, DE 19734 Petitioner
Perez 1344 Maple Ave. Wilmington, DE 19805 Respondent
ORDER AND DECISION ON PETITION FOR NAME CHANGE FOR
H. SURLES JUDGE
Ms. Vega and Mr. Perez:
hearing for the above-referenced matter was held on June 18,
2018. This matter involves a request for a name change
pursuant to Chapter 59 of Title 10 of the Delaware Code for a
two-year-old child named Nova Angelina Perez-Vega
("Nova"). The petition requests that her name be
changed to Nova Angelina Vega, and was filed by her natural
mother, Megan Vega ("Ms. Vega"), who is pursuing
the name change on her behalf. Mr. Miguel Perez ("Mr.
Perez"), Nova's natural father, opposes the
petition. At the hearing, the Court heard testimony from Ms.
Vega, Mr. Perez, and Mrs. Marisol Vega, Nova's maternal
grandmother. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Court
reserved decision. This is the Court's decision after the
the evidence introduced at the hearing, it was established
that Ms. Vega and Mr. Perez are the natural parents of Nova.
Ms. Vega has primary custody and is the primary caregiver of
Nova. Mr. Perez has no parental rights and has no visitation
rights. Ms. Vega testified that a visitation agreement was
put in place but Mr. Perez failed to abide by it.
Family Court had scheduled custody and child support hearings
for Nova, but Mr. Perez missed both hearings. The Family
Court granted Ms. Vega's request for child support and
ordered Mr. Perez to pay $250 a month in child support. To
this date, Mr. Perez has not paid any child support and is
over $4, 000 in arrears.
Vega believes that it is in the best interest of Nova to
change her last name from Perez-Vega to Vega. Ms. Vega and
her family provide all the financial support to Nova.
Presently, Ms. Vega and Nova live at Ms. Vega's
parents' home. Ms. Vega testified that Mr. Perez is not a
part of Nova's life. At first, Ms. Vega tried to
co-parent with Mr. Perez, but he did not participate. Ms.
Vega attempted to set up visits between Mr. Perez and Nova,
but Mr. Perez always canceled them at the last minute.
Vega testified that Nova does not know Mr. Perez. Ms. Vega
further testified that it would not be right for her daughter
to have her natural father's surname when he is not a
part of her life. Ms. Vega believes it would cause confusion
and would become difficult for Nova when she starts school in
a couple of years.
Marisol Vega, Nova's maternal grandmother, testified that
Nova does not identify Mr. Vega as her father. Instead, Nova
identifies her maternal grandfather as her father. She also
testified that Nova's paternal grandmother used to visit
Nova once a month, but does not do so anymore.
Perez testified that he is trying to get his life back
together and wants to be a better father. He recently
obtained his General Equivalence Diploma, and is attempting
to enroll at a local college. In June 15, 2018, Mr. Perez got
his Certificate of Completion of Family Visitation Center
Orientation, which will allow him to have supervised
visitation rights with Nova. However, Mr. Perez testified
that he has not had time to file a petition to modify his
visitation rights, even though he has had the petition for
some time. Mr. Perez testified that he has seen Nova
on-and-off, only when Ms. Vega allows him to see her. Mr.
Perez has only seen Nova once this year. Further, Mr. Perez
testified that he was convicted in 2015 on a Felony Burglary
charge, for which he served 30 days in the VOP center. In
2017, Mr. Perez was convicted on a Graffiti charge, for which
he was sentenced to level two probation. Additionally, Mr.
Perez testified that his driving license has been suspended
since 2015 after he was charged with underage gambling in
Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Perez testified that he wants Nova to keep his surname
because it would make him fight harder to become a better
father to her. He further testified that if the Court grants
the name change petition he would not try as hard.
legal standard for change of name petitions for minors is
whether the change of name is in the "best interest of
the child." In re Change of Smith, 2003 WL
23469571, at *4 (Del. Com. PI. Mar. 19, 2003). "Clearly
what constitutes the 'best interest of the child'
involves a factual analysis involving the relationship and
family structure of the minor." Id. The factors
the Court considers in determining whether the ...