IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR CHANGE OF NAME: ENH, a Minor Child
NICHOLAS R. HANSLEY, Appellee (Respondent). SARA SOWERS-COLLISON, Appellant (Petitioner),
from the District Court of Laramie County The Honorable
Catherine R. Rogers, Judge
Representing Appellant: James R. Salisbury, The Salisbury
Firm, P.C., Cheyenne, Wyoming
Representing Appellee: No appearance
BURKE, C.J., and HILL, DAVIS, FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ.
Mother Sara Sowers-Collison, on behalf of her eleven-year-old
son, filed a petition in the district court to change the
boy's surname. Father Nicholas R. Hansley objected, and
the district court denied the petition. Mother appealed that
decision. We affirm.
Mother presents a single claim to this Court:
Did the district court err by denying the petition without
considering the best interest of the child?
The child was born to Mother and Father in Ohio on October 9,
2003. Within approximately one year, Mother's current
husband came into her and her son's life, and sometime
within the next ten years they married. Sometime before the
boy's eighth birthday, he moved with Mother from Ohio to
Laramie County, Wyoming.
At the time Mother filed her petition, and for an unknown
period prior to that, she and Father were subject to a
"parenting agreement" that Father implied was
court-enforceable in Franklin County, Ohio. Over the years,
Father remained as involved in his son's life as his
allotted visitation, the distance of their separation, and
his limited finances allowed. Mother unilaterally made the
decision to move to Wyoming, and the move was already
underway when he first learned of it.
On August 12, 2015, Mother filed the petition to change the
boy's surname to Sowers-Collison, along with her
supporting affidavit. Neither of those documents contains any
allegation that the requested name change would be in the
child's best interest, or that it would not be
detrimental to Father. Father subsequently submitted his
handwritten objection to the petition, and the matter was set
for a hearing on January 11, 2016.
Mother and the parties' son testified in person at the
hearing, and Father appeared and testified by telephone. Ten
days later the district court issued an order denying the
petition. As its rationale for that ruling, the court noted
only that changing the child's surname would be
detrimental to Father's interests under Wyo. Stat. Ann.
§ 1-25-101. Mother timely ...