Family law

Children's law experts

If you want to change a child's name by change of name deed, perhaps following divorce or re-marriage, it's important to understand all the implications. Our experienced family lawyers are here to guide you.

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Can I change my child's name?

There are a number of reasons why you might want to change your child's name. As a woman, you might want to revert back to your maiden name after divorce, possibly because you would prefer not to use a former spouse's name after an acrimonious divorce, and you want your children's surname to match your own.

In contrast, you might equally want to change a child's surname when you remarry and take a new spouse's name.

These are all good reasons to want to change a child's name by change of name deed, but you may not necessarily be able to do so, particularly if a former partner with parental responsibility objects to the name change.

In general, if you want to change your child's name, you will need consent from the other parent if he or she has parental responsibility.

Who can object to changing a child's surname?

Until they are aged 16, you don't need your child's consent to change their name. After this age, they must agree to the change, and from the age of 18 they have the right to change their own name by Change of Name Deed, regardless of what either parent may say.

It's also important to understand that if the other parent has Parental Responsibility for a child below the age of 18, they have the legal right to object to any attempt to change a child's name.

An example of this might be an unmarried father who is named on the birth certificate of a child born after 1 December 2003.

In a case like this, you can still proceed with your application, but the court will need to be persuaded that the change is in the child's best interests. This may be because you wish the child to have the same surname as siblings in a new extended family, or even because the objecting parent has no direct communication with the child and the name change is being made in order to protect the child.

Can I change an adopted child's name to mine?

There's no need to, as a child's surname is automatically changed to that of the adoptive parents upon completion of the adoption process.

They are then issued with an adoption certificate that serves all of the same functions as a birth certificate, though they can apply for a copy of their original birth certificate when they turn 18.

How do I go about changing a child's surname?

If no one with parental responsibility objects, you can ask our family law experts to take steps to change the child's name. This is usually done by completing a change of name deed.

This document will need to be witnessed by someone who knows the parents and child, and also signed by everyone who holds parental responsibility, confirming that the name change is in the child's best interests.

It is then sent to the Royal Courts of Justice, together with the child's birth certificate. Once approved, the child can be known by the new name and you are able to officially change the name to the new name with all major institutions.

If you are considering changing a child's surname and have the necessary parental responsibility to do so, talk to one of our experienced family lawyers to find out more by calling 0800 780 2730 or contact us online today and we will call you back.

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