Can I Change My Child’s Surname?

Our Kelly Bruton answers the frequently asked question - Can I change my child’s surname?

A question that we are quite frequently asked is whether a child’s surname can be changed.  If a child is under 16, their name can only be changed if everyone with parental responsibility for them gives written evidence of their consent.  If the child is over 16 or the other parent with parental responsibility is willing to provide written consent, we can prepare a Change of Name Deed.

If the child’s other parent has parental responsibility and refuses to consent to their name being changed, then it will be necessary for a Specific Issue Order application to be made by the court to change a child’s name.  When considering whether a child’s name should be changed, the court will take into account current case law and they will apply the principle that the child’s welfare is the court’s paramount consideration, therefore a change of name from the child’s registered name will require justification.  The onus will be upon you to demonstrate that it would be in your child’s interests to change their name.

One option is for the child’s surname to show as double barrelled.  By doing this, you are not seeking to take away the child’s identity and connection they have with the other parent, but instead enhance their identity and promote their relationship with both parents.

You may also be seeking a change in your child’s surname for practical reasons, for example adding your surname to your child’s name will make it easier for them to travel abroad without you being required to consistently carry additional documentation (birth certificate, court order etc).  A double surname may encourage transparency as to the child’s parentage and it immediately identifies both parents as holders of parental responsibility in dealings with medical, education and border control authorities.

If a child is young and of pre-school age, it is likely that they are yet to establish their full identity and personality in relation to their surname.  Any change made is therefore unlikely to have a significant effect on them.   When both parents are important in a child’s life, their surname is a good place to reflect that.

Quite often when a child is born and the parents are unmarried, the child will be given one parent’s surname.  It may be that the parents are considering getting married in the future and/or do not anticipate separating in the immediate future.  Should they later separate, it can be difficult for the parent who has a child with a surname different to theirs and they may then consider adding their name to the child’s surname.

If you would like to discuss changing your child’s name, please get in touch.

Please contact us at the emails below:

Southampton office - kellybruton@newleafsolicitors.co.uk

Birmingham office - paulineorourke@newleafsolicitors.co.uk

Rugby office - francinebristo@newleafsolicitors.co.uk