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Changing the name of a child

Changing name

Just like adults may change their name due to a marriage or civil partnership, or after a separation, so children may have their names changed as well. However, a new marriage or divorce are not the only reasons why a child’s name may need to be changed. Other circumstances can include:

  • The child was named after a parent who was abusive, or has been absent for a long time
  • Change in surname will help protect the child
  • You have children with different surnames and want them to all have the same name

Although you can change the name of a child by submitting their new name to the Royal Courts of Justice, this is not always a straightforward process. There are a number of factors that affect whether a child’s name can be changed, and who must consent to it.

In most cases, you must obtain consent from the other parent if you want to change a child’s name. If you decide to change your child’s name without the consent of any other people who have parental responsibility, the change can be reversed by the court and you may have to pay for this. Who has parental responsibility is defined in Section 2 of the Children Act 1989, but it’s usually both parents if they were married when the child was born, or the mother if the parents were not married.

If two parents disagree about a name change, either one can make an application for a court order. The person who wants to make a name change would need to apply for a Specific Issue Order, while a parent opposing it would apply for a Prohibited Steps Order. Either way, the court is instructed by law to consider the best interests of the child. Any parent who wishes to make an application for a court order should seek legal advice first, to see if their application is likely to be successful. Anyone applying for a court order has to prove that they have tried to reach an agreement informally or through mediation before going to court.

If everyone who has parental responsibility agrees to the name change, or if a court order for a name change is granted, a deed of change of name (also known as a Deed Poll) can be requested.

What does the Deed Poll do?

The Deed Poll is a document that confirms the child’s name has been changed. Various government agencies will need this as proof that child has a new name, and update their records accordingly.

After a child’s name has been changed, it’s not always the case that the birth certificate itself can be changed. In this case, the Deed Poll will accompany the birth certificate so that they can be used as a form of identification.

If you need to change your child’s name, call Foys

It may be the case that you have a court order preventing you from changing your child’s name, or that the other parent is not willing to give their permission. This is especially frustrating if your child actually wants a name change.

Whatever the reason for a name change, you should contact the Family and Children Law specialists Foys Solicitors. We have qualified experts who can handle name changes, as well as court orders or any mediation meetings that are required. Even if you have not yet been able to change your child’s name, it may be possible.

For a free initial consultation, contact your local Foys Solicitors office today.