Can you change your childs surname?

Posted on Tuesday, 5th Jul, 2016 at 10:26:01 PM
A mother, or father, cannot change a childs surname by herself or himself unless she or he is the only person with parental responsibility.

Even then if the other parent objects a Court Order should be made. Any child who has sufficient legal understanding may apply in their own right for the Court's permission to change their name.

How to change your childs last name

A name can effectively be changed by common usage but this normally relates to first names only and will not usually be legally enforceable. The easiest way of obtaining a formal proof may be to make a statutory declaration in front of a solicitor confirming the change of name. This is usually sufficient for banks, work and the Passport Office, etc..

For a change of name to be fully legally recognised, the person having parental responsibility for the child can execute a Deed Poll which is a legal document containing personal information about the child and which will later be advertised in the London Gazette by the Court. The child must sign the Deed Poll as evidence of consent, if that child is aged between 16 and 18 years.

There is a procedure in England & Wales called enrolment, which means that a deed poll is placed for safe keeping in the Royal Courts of Justice. It is not a requirement for the deed poll to be enrolled. Government bodies (e.g. HM Passport Office, DVLA, etc.) accept both enrolled and unenrolled deed polls. The process of enrolment doesn't affect the legal status of your name. It isn't more or less legally recognised than an unenrolled deed poll. It's simply a matter of making a safe and public record of your change of name.

The Deed Poll must be accompanied by the childs birth certificate and a declaration sworn by a third party to formally identify the child and state the length of time for which that person has known the child and his or her parents. The Deed Poll must be supported by an Affidavit, a solemn promise that the proposed change of name will be for the benefit of the child.

For more information on how to change your child's surname, visit the website of Deed Poll Office where there is vast information on this and more.

Questions from other parents

Q. Can the parent and step parent alone change the childs name?

A. No, they must have the written agreement of anyone else with parental responsibility or if not, consent of the Court.

Q. What happens if my ex wont give consent?

A. The Court can overrule the other parent but only after careful consideration of all the facts.

Q. What if I was unmarried when the child was born?

A. An unmarried father can get legal responsibility for his child in 1 of 3 ways:
jointly registering the birth of the child with the mother (from 1 December 2003)
getting a parental responsibility agreement with the mother
getting a parental responsibility order from a court
If the father doesnt have Parental Responsibility and you want to marry someone else, you should still seek his permission.

This is because the law is fast moving towards giving unmarried fathers greater involvement in their childrens lives, even where they do not have parental responsibility.

Q. How long does it take?

A. It varies according to which route you take. Your solicitor will advise you.

Q. Can a child change their own name?

A. If aged between 16 and 18 a child can generally change their name themselves but the consent of any person having responsibility for that child may be required.

Q. Can a child object to their name being changed?

A. Yes, if the Court is involved the child may well be consulted, if not the child could apply to the Court.

Q. How much does it cost?

A. It varies according to which route you take and who is involved. Ask your solicitor to tell you all the costs before taking any steps.

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