ONE OF OUR OWN SETS AN IMPORTANT PRECEDENT

Having appeared before the Honorable Marcia Silva on many family matters and before that, dealing with her as an adversary in the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, I have always admired her sense of fairness and no nonsense approach to legal decision making. That is why I am proud to see her set an important precedent in the recent case of Sacklow v. Betts, NJ Super Ch. Div.

In a case of first impression, the Judge tackled an important issue that needed to be addressed as our society moves towards more awareness and fair treatment of transgender youth. The Court was asked to decide what standards to apply to a transgender minor child’s name change application.
The Court found that the best interest standard should govern the Court’s decision and the following factors be considered when the child is a minor, transgender and wishes to assume a name more appropriately attributable to the gender they identify with.

1. The age of the child
2. The length of time the child has used the preferred name
3. Any potential anxiety, embarrassment, or discomfort that may result from the child having a name he or she believes does not match his or her outward appearance and gender identity
4. The history of any medical or mental health counseling the child has received
5. The name the child is known by in his or her family, school and community
6. The child’s preference and motivations for seeking the name change
7. Whether both parents’ consent to the name change and if consent is not given the reason for withholding consent
After using the factors in this case, Judge Silva found that plaintiff’s request to change Veronica’s name to Trevor was in Trevor’s best interest. Thankfully the Judge in this case made a well-reasoned and fair decision that was focused on this child’s best interest.