Changing a Child’s Surname
You can change a child’s surname by deed poll, but only if you have the consent of everyone with parental responsibility. If consent is not given, you can pursue the matter through the courts.
Can I change my child’s surname?
There are lots of reasons why you might want to change your child’s surname. For example, you might want everyone in the family to have the same surname. Or there might be safety issues that make it necessary to protect your child’s identity. Or it might be that your child is named after an abusive parent, which causes distress for all involved. Whatever the reason, it is possible to change your child’s surname. However, you will need to get consent from all those with parental responsibility first. This inevitably leads to the question – who has parental responsibility?
A mother automatically has parental responsibility from the moment her child is born. Most fathers will have parental responsibility if they were married to the mother at the time of the birth or have been registered on the birth certificate. A father, family member or guardian may also obtain parental responsibility via a court order or a parental responsibility agreement.
Changing a name by deed poll
If all those with parental responsibility provide their consent, you can go ahead and change your child’s name by deed poll. You will need to complete the necessary forms and send them to the Royal Courts of Justice. If your application is approved, you will be sent a deed poll document. You can then start using your child’s new surname and changing official documents, such as their passport.
Going to court
If all those with parental responsibility do not consent, but you feel it is important to change your child’s surname, then you will need to obtain permission from the court. To do this, you need to apply for a court order known as a Specific Issue Order. The court will consider what is in the child’s best interests, and if it feels this means changing their surname, permission will be granted.
What if a parent is absent?
Sometimes you cannot get consent from one parent because he or she is absent from the child’s life. In such circumstances you may not have any contact details for that person, and so will be wondering what to do.In these situations, you can change your child’s surname by deed poll, but you must show that you have made reasonable attempts to contact the absent parent. Even if you do this, you might run into difficulties, particularly when it comes to changing official documents such as their passport. Therefore it may be best to get a Specific Issue Order instead.
Can a child change their own name?
It is worth noting that once a child turns 16, he/she can change their own name. Those with parental responsibility may be able to override their decision, although this is rare. Once someone turns 18, he/she is legally considered an adult and can change their own name without the permission of their parents.
Expert legal advice
If you would like professional legal help with any aspect of divorce, separation or child law, do not hesitate to contact our family law solicitors. For an informal chat or to book a consultation, call us on 0333 4564 444, or for international calls, dial +44 1992 505 406.