Changing a child’s name

When parents separate, the name by which their child should be known can be a source of dispute.

Both married parents have duty to register their child’s birth (the mother has this duty if unmarried). Once registered, the child’s surname on the register cannot be changed. A Deed of Change of Name (Deed Poll) is required to effect a subsequent change of name. Such Deed must have the consent of all persons with Parental responsibility for the child. In the absence of consent, the permission of the Court is required to proceed with a change of name. Parents who are considering changing their child’s name in this way should be aware of the following points made by the Court in recent cases about whether the child’s name should be changed:-

The Courts have expressed that nowadays there is no stigma for a child to carry a different surname to that of the other adults/children in their home. The fact that the child’s surname is different from the mother’s surname is not sufficient reasons for it to be changed.

 – That a change of a child’s name should not be undertaken unless there is evidence that this would lead to an improvement in the child’s welfare, thereby justifying the change. In all cases, the child’s welfare is paramount.

 – Once a child’s name has been registered, such name stands indefinitely unless there are exceptional circumstances.

 –  The Court will endeavour to protect the connection which a specific name gives the child to its genetic roots.

For further information and advice please contact our Family Law team –