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Sometimes one or both parents may wish to change a child’s surname. This often, but not always, occurs following the breakdown of a relationship. Common reasons include:
- so that all family members share the same surname;
- the safety and protection of the child;
- so that the child no longer shares the surname of a parent who has been neglectful, absent or abusive;
- where a parent believes they have been denied their parental rights to choose the child’s name, perhaps as a result of coercion or pressure.
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Child name change law
In most situations, a child’s name can only be changed if everybody with Parental Responsibility agrees. If one parent acts unilaterally, the Court is very likely to reverse the change and may order the parent who has acted unlawfully to pay the other parent’s legal costs.
It is recommended that a parent wishing to change a child’s name always seek legal advice first.
Ultimately, if everyone with Parental Responsibility cannot agree, the Court may have to make the decision. A parent wishing to change the child’s name can apply to the Court for a Specific Issue Order. A parent opposing a change of name can apply for a Prohibited Steps Order.
Having regard to all the circumstances of the case, the Court will consider whether it is in a child’s interests for their name to be changed.