How do I change my child’s name?

30th June 2021 9:00 am Comments Off on How do I change my child’s name?

There are a number of reasons why a parent may wish to change their child’s name. For example, a parent may be distressed by calling the child by the child’s registered name, for instance, a child named after an absent or violent parent. Or, a parent may wish all the children of the family to have the same surname.

Before changing your child’s name, we would advise you to consider the reasons why you want to change their name and the consequences that any change could have on your child. How could the proposed change of name affect the relationship that your child has with their other parent or relatives? How will it change your child’s sense of personal identity? Also, if you want to change your child’s surname to that of your new partner is the relationship stable enough to consider changing your child’s surname? We would also advise you to talk to your child about the change and to consider their opinion before acting.

Who can change a child’s name?

A child acquires their name when he or she is registered shortly after their birth, by their mother or father, or someone else with parental responsibility. The term “parental responsibility” means the legal rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority that a parent has for their child and the child’s property. The birth certificate is the official record of the child’s name, as well as their date of birth and who their parents are.

It is possible to change a child’s forename or surname, or add more names. There are some restrictions on names that can be used, based on public policy.

If only one parent or person has parental responsibility for the child, that person can lawfully change the child’s name. However, if the parent without parental responsibility objects then it is good practice to seek permission from the court.

If two or more people have parental responsibility for a child, all of them must agree to change the child’s name. An agreement does not have to be in writing, but it is very helpful if it is. If they do not agree then an application must be made for the court’s permission to allow a change of name.

If a child arrangements order is in force that regulates the arrangements relating to with whom the child is to live and when the child is to live with any person, the child’s name cannot be changed without the written agreement of everyone with parental responsibility or the permission of the court.

A child’s name can be changed at any time so long as it is not done with the intention of deceiving someone else.

How can we help you?

There is no set legal procedure that has to be followed in order to change a child’s name, provided all the people who need to give their consent have done so. A child’s name can simply be changed by common usage, so everyone just starts using the new name.

However, many organisations require evidence that a name has been changed. Therefore, it is wise to instruct a specialist family solicitor to draw up a change of name deed to provide evidence of the name change. Everyone with parental responsibility for the child needs to sign the deed and those signatures need to be witnessed. The deed poll may then be “enrolled” in the Royal Court of Justice. There is no requirement to enrol the deed but enrolment will provide a public record of the execution of the deed and a person’s change of name.

If you cannot obtain the consent of the other people with parental responsibility, we can prepare and submit an application to the court asking for an order giving permission for the name change.

If a name has been changed without your consent, we can help you ask the court to change it back.

The court will consider what is in the best interests of the child when deciding whether to allow or undo a name change.

Contact us

Please do not hesitate to call us on 01628 631051 or to email family@colemans.co.uk. We offer an initial one hour fixed fee meeting for £168 including VAT, during which one of our specialist family solicitors would be able to provide you with detailed and confidential advice about changing your child’s name.


Categorised in: Family Law

This post was written by Colemans Solicitors LLP

© Colemans Solicitors LLP, 2021
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The information given on this website is not a comprehensive review of the law and practices in this area and does not constitute legal advice on a specific issue. Colemans Solicitors LLP does not therefore accept liability if you rely on or apply this information to your specific situation without taking bespoke advice. To seek detailed legal advice in relation to your specific circumstances or transaction please contact us.