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Name Change – Discretion

WI Court of Appeals – District III

Case Name: R. I. B. v. Brown County Circuit Court [Recommended for Publication]

Case No.: 2022AP000323-FT

Officials: Gill, J.

Focus: Name Change – Discretion

This appeal addresses whether a transgender individual (Robert) met the statutory requirements for a confidential name change under WIS. STAT. § 786.37(4) (2019-20). In answering that question, the court must determine the meaning of § 786.37(4)’s evidentiary standard for obtaining a confidential name change—specifically, the petitioner must demonstrate “by a preponderance of the evidence[] that publication of his or her petition could endanger him or her.”

Robert appeals a circuit court order denying his petition for a confidential name change pursuant to WIS. STAT. § 786.37(4). Robert argues that § 786.37(4)’s standard required him to demonstrate only that it is possible that physical, mental, or emotional harm could occur to him if his name change petition is published, and that the court erred when it concluded that Robert failed to demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that publication of his name change petition “could endanger” him. Conversely, the State contends that § 786.37(4) required Robert to demonstrate that it is more likely than not that physical harm could occur to him if his name change petition is published.


Decided 01/18/23

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