Senator RONALD L. RICE
District 28 (Essex)
Authorizes party to a final divorce judgment or judgment for the dissolution of a civil union to request name change without notifying opposing party.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning certain name change applications and amending N.J.S.2A:34-21.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. N.J.S.2A:34-21 is amended to read as follows:
2A:34-21. a. The court, upon or after granting a divorce from the bonds of matrimony to either spouse or dissolution of a civil union to either partner in a civil union couple, may allow either spouse or partner in a civil union couple to resume any name used by the spouse or partner in a civil union couple before the marriage or civil union, or to assume any surname.
b. A party seeking either the resumption of a name or the assumption of a surname pursuant to subsection a. of this section after the entry of a final judgment of divorce or judgment of dissolution of a civil union may seek such relief through an ex parte motion. Any judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part of the county in which the judgment of divorce was entered may enter such an ex parte order when necessary to protect the life, health, or well being of the party on whose behalf the relief is sought. Such an ex parte order shall be granted upon good cause shown. A decision shall be made by the judge regarding the relief forthwith.
A party seeking an ex parte order pursuant to this subsection shall certify to a credible and lawful purpose for the resumption or assumption of the particular name or surname. The party shall also certify whether or not he or she has ever been convicted of a crime and whether any criminal charges are pending against him or her. If such convictions or pending charges exist, the party shall provide such details in connection therewith sufficient to readily identify the matter referred to. If criminal charges are pending, the party shall notify, by certified mail, the law enforcement authority responsible for prosecution thereof of the name or surname that the party wishes to resume or assume and the reasons articulated for the name change. Notice shall be sent to the law enforcement authority at least 30 days prior to the party seeking ex parte relief under this subsection.
The party shall also certify that the ex parte motion is not being instituted for purposes of avoiding or obstructing criminal prosecution, for avoiding creditors, or for perpetrating a criminal or civil fraud. The party shall also certify that he or she has not been adjudged a bankrupt in the past 10 years and that he or she is not presently a party in a bankruptcy proceeding. A person commits a crime of the fourth degree if he or she knowingly gives or causes to be given false information under this subsection.
An order granting the ex parte relief shall be forwarded to the sheriff for immediate service upon the non-moving party in accordance with the Rules of Court. If personal service cannot be effected upon the non-moving party, the court may order other appropriate substituted service. At no time shall the moving party be asked or required to serve the ex parte order on the non-moving party.
(cf: P.L.2006, c.103, s.2)
2. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill authorizes a divorced individual or an individual whose civil union has been dissolved to request a name change without notifying the former spouse or civil union partner of the request. Under current law, a divorced individual or an individual whose civil union has been dissolved must notify the former spouse or former civil union partner of the individual's intent to change names. This bill waives this notice requirement when the individual seeking the name change can demonstrate that the waiver is necessary to protect the individual's life, health, or well being.
In order to minimize the risk of fraud and illegality, this bill imposes certain certification requirements on an individual who wants to conceal a name change application from a former spouse or former civil union partner. Such an individual must certify that there is a credible and lawful purpose for the name change. In addition, the individual must certify whether or not he or she has ever been convicted of a crime, whether any criminal charges are pending against him or her, and that the name change is not being instituted in order to avoid or obstruct criminal prosecution or creditors, or to perpetuate a criminal or civil fraud. Finally, the individual must certify that he or she has not been adjudged a bankrupt in the past ten years and is not presently a party in a bankruptcy proceeding.
If criminal charges are pending against the individual, this bill requires the individual to notify the relevant law enforcement authority of the name that the individual wishes to assume and the reasons articulated for the name change. This bill requires the individual to notify the relevant law enforcement authority at least 30 days prior to the individual initiating a change of name procedure under this bill. This bill makes it a crime of the fourth degree to knowingly give or cause to be given false information required under this bill.