In re Cortez (12/3/2019)

December 5, 2019

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One holds that a person need not show “good cause” to change names in Arizona.

An Arizona statute allows a person to change names by filing an application in superior court.  A.R.S. § 12-601.  The person must indicate on the application the reason for the name change, whether criminal charges are pending against the person, and other items.  Id. § 12-601(A), (C).

Valeria Cortez filed an application to change his name to Sebastian Valentine.  He indicated on the application the items required by statute.  His stated reason for changing names was: “I am transitioning and want my documents to match my identity.”

The superior court summarily denied the application for lack of “good cause.”

The Court of Appeals reversed and directed the superior court to grant the application.  The Court reasoned that the statute has no “good cause” requirement.  The purpose of the statute is to allow a person to adopt any name the person wishes, absent fraud or improper motive.  A name change request may not be denied merely because the reason for the change is a gender transition.

Judge Weinzweig authored the opinion.  Judge Howe and Judge Portley (Ret.) concurred.