Child Name Change Solicitors
After an acrimonious divorce, some women change their surname to remove the link to their ex-spouse and may want to do so for their children as well. Another time they may want to change their child’s name is if they remarry and want everyone to have the same new surname. While they are perfectly entitled to do this for themselves, what is the family law advice about changing children’s names?
Family Law and Child Name Changes
Under English family law you cannot:
- Change your child’s surname because you have changed your surname
- Change your child’s surname without the permission of any other person with Parental Responsibility
- Change your child’s surname without their consent if they are over 16 years old
If an unmarried father does not have Parental Responsibility then you do not need his approval to legally change your child’s name.
Changing a Child’s Surname
Family law solicitors can assist in your child’s name change. Assuming everyone with Parental Responsibility is in agreement, a child’s name can be changed by Deed Poll. This is a formal document stating a name has legally been changed and which is used to alter your child’s name on other official records such as their passport, school enrolment and National Insurance number.
A Deed Poll application is completed and signed by a witness who states how long they have known the child and their parents. Those with Parental Responsibility need to sign a declaration confirming that the name change will benefit the child, that it is not being made to deceive or harm them now or in the future. These forms are sent with the child’s birth certificate for the name change to be actioned.
If a person with Parental Responsibility objects, then the one wanting the change can petition the Court with their objections. In these instances, the Court will examine the circumstances around the name change to decide whether it can proceed. For example, if the child’s mother has remarried and has had children with her new partner, and the child is the only member of their household to have a different name, then a Court may agree it is in their best interests to have it changed. Another example is if the objecting parent has no direct contact rights and the request is being made for the child’s protection.
An older child can also object to having their name changed and submit a request to the court to prevent this from happening.
The Rights of the Child
A child can change their name by Deed Poll without parental consent when they turn 18. Until then, even if they are old enough to clearly express their wishes, they must have signed agreement from anyone with Parental Responsibility.
Adoption and Name Change
A child’s surname will automatically be changed to that of their new parents when they are adopted. There is no need to change it by Deed Poll. An adoption certificate is issued to be used in place of the child’s birth certificate. A child can apply for a copy of their original birth certificate when they turn 18 years old, but they do not have to and can use their adoption certificate in place of their birth certificate for life.
It is not always necessary for everyone to have the same surname to be considered “family”. Your child may be too young to object now, but consider their feelings in the future and how the change will affect their attitude toward their extended family.
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