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Changing a Child's Surname

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 23 Apr 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Changing A Child's Surname Surname Birth

Changing a child's surname is a common cause of conflict between parents, especially if they are separated, newly married to another partner or were not married to each other at the time the birth was registered. So who can change a child's surname and how?

Anyone can change their name by deed poll (using a deed of change of name) but sometimes additional consent from other parties with parental responsibility is needed. Your birth certificate will not normally be changed as this is a historical record of your name at birth.

What is a Deed Poll?

A Deed Poll is a legal document in which a person agrees to carry out an action set out in the document. For a Deed to Change Name, a person is simply agreeing to change their name and going forwards be known by their new name.

Who Can Make an Deed Poll Application?

For children, an application will need to be made by their parents using a specific application for minors. Importantly, all those with parental responsibility will need to consent to the name change.

If a care order is in place, the Local Authority will have parental responsibility so must consent to the name change. Speak to your case worker to discuss your reasons for wanting the change and to obtain their consent.

What is Parental Responsibility?

Parental responsibility as defined by S.3(1) Children Act 1989 is: 'all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property'.
Essentially, it is the power to make practical and important decisions about a child such as where they go to school, where they live and what religion they follow.

Do I have Parental Responsibility?

Below is a breakdown of all those who have automatic parental responsibility:
  • Mothers (regardless of whether married or divorced)
  • Fathers married to the mother at the time of birth (and this is not lost if they later divorce)
  • Fathers not married to the mother at the time of birth but who later marry the mother
  • Anyone with a Parental Responsibility Agreement or Order from the Court providing Parental Responsibility
  • Anyone whose name is registered on the birth certificate (even if unmarried) after 1 December 2003
  • Anyone with a Residence Order prior to 22 Aril 2014

Why Change a Child's Name?

There are many reasons why parents may wish to change a child's name and so this is really an endless list. However common reasons given include:
  • Parents have split up following birth of the child and one parent no longer has contact with the child
  • Parents have got married after birth of the child and wish to change the child's name to match their married name
  • A parent is distressed that their child has the same name as an abusive former partner and this may have an impact on their care of the child
  • The child has not been known by their legal name for a long period of time and is no longer known by that name
  • A parent wishes all their children to have the same surname
Changing a child's name is a significant and important decision and not one to be taken lightly. In particular it should not be used to "get back" at a former partner, and the courts will strongly disapprove of this

If you need assistance with changing your child's name, speak to your local Citizen's Advice Bureau who can often provide free and independent legal advice.

Below are some answers to questions we're commonly asked.

What if the Other Parent Objects to the Name Change?

If one (or more) parties with parental responsibility will not consent to the name change, then you can apply to court to change a child's name. You will need to apply for a Specific Issue Order. The court will determine any such application by considering what is in the best interests of the child.

What if the Other Party Cannot be Contacted to Consent?

Sometimes a party with parental responsibility cannot be contacted (eg a father who was named on the birth certificate after 1 December 2003 but who has split from the mother and is no longer involved in the child's life).

In that situation it is possible for a child's name to be changed by deed poll. However the parent making the application must have made reasonable attempts to try to contact the other party/parties with parental responsibility. The deed poll service will want to see evidence of attempts to make contact. Evidence of this should normally include:

  • Writing to the person's last known address (keep a copy of the letter)
  • Emailing the person's last known email address (keep a copy of the email, and any can't deliver message if applicable)

It is important to note that even if the deed poll service allows a child's name to be changed in these circumstances, the passport office may still refuse to accept the name change. This is because they often use a more rigorous test when assessing whether reasonable attempts have been made to contact the other party. This is largely due to child abduction concerns. It is often better to consider applying to the court for an order permitting the change in these circumstances. Without opposition from the other party, an order is more likely to be granted.

What if My Child's Name Has Been Changed but I Don't Have Parental Responsibility?

If a party without parental responsibility discovers that their child's name has been changed, they can apply to the court for the change to be reversed. There would however need to be a good reason for this.

[TIP: If you are applying to the court for a name change reversal, it would also be a good idea to apply for a Parental Responsibility Order at the same time. This will prevent further decisions (e.g your child's medical treatment, or where they will live) being made without your consent, or a court order.]

Can I Just Call my Child Something Different Without Changing their Legal Name?

A child can be given a "known name" which is different to their legal name. This is just similar to using a nickname. The child's true legal name will however still need to be used on official documents, such as academic certificates, and when for example registering your child at a doctors.

If a party with parental responsibility does not agree with the use of the child's "known name" then they can apply to the court for an order to stop the "known name" being used. The court is only likely to grant such an order with good reason though (e.g just because you dislike your son William being known as "Bill", you will not be given an order by the court to prevent this). It is therefore important if contesting this to clearly set out your reasons for the objection.

Where do apply for a Deed Poll application form?

There are many websites offering a service to change your name by deed poll but you can do this yourself directly via the government website here

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[Add a Comment]
SL - Your Question:
Hi My son has my surname, he has just turned 6, my ex whom I have been split with for 4 years has decided she would like to double-barrel my childs surname. I don't want this for multiple reasons but nothing has been discussed with me, I intend to refuse as don't see why it would be in my sons interest, what happens if she marries, we were never married, why was it ok then and not now? Surely its a childs decision when they come of age? A name change is permanent and shouldn't be taken likely? Is it true mediation is required before she can process her request with court? I see my son regularly and would love to have him more, but she wont allow it. I have him every other weekend and every Wednesday. any advice welcome?

Our Response:
The mother can informally double barrel the name but in order to change the name officially on documents like passports etc, she would need your consent. If you did not want to consent, she would have to apply for a court order (and the jusge would consider your objection).
LawAndParents - 24-Apr-18 @ 2:19 PM
Hi. I’m looking for a little advice before making an appointment with a solicitor.. My child is in my sole care - Dad is not allowed contact after many failed court attempts, he is not allowed to send cards/letters or make phone calls. Paternal GF has recently been named and shamed in newspapers and convicted with making and possessing indecent child images - for the sole safety of my child would I be able to change her surname? Any advice would be great, thank you.
Options1 - 23-Apr-18 @ 11:54 PM
Hi My son has my surname, he has just turned 6, my ex whom I have been split with for 4 years has decided she would like to double-barrel my childs surname. I don't want this for multiple reasons but nothing has been discussed with me, I intend to refuse as don't see why it would be in my sons interest, what happens if she marries, we were never married, why was it ok then and not now? Surely its a childs decision when they come of age? A name change is permanent and shouldn't be taken likely? Is it true mediation is required before she can process her request with court? I see my son regularly and would love to have him more, but she wont allow it. I have him every other weekend and every Wednesday. any advice welcome?
SL - 23-Apr-18 @ 9:29 AM
Foysal - Your Question:
Hi - We (my wife and I) applied through an online company to change our son's first name via Deed Poll. We duly received the deed poll document showing change of name, including instructions on getting someone to witness and sign the document, which also includes both of our signatures. GOV.UK - guidance provides details of having to notify the change of name to the 'The Gazette', The Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London. However, we've been advised by the online company that this isn't necessary, so long as both parents consent to changing the name, and that the deed poll document is sufficient for any establishment to accept our son's change of name (primarily his school).Can you please clarify whether or not it is necessary to send notification to The Gazette, of our son's change of name to make it legally acceptable? Thank you.

Our Response:
The general process include notification in the Gazette. You can download the forms from the government website, the fee is £36. Here's the advice and the link
LawAndParents - 23-Mar-18 @ 10:47 AM
Hi - We (my wife and I) applied through an online company to change our son's first name via Deed Poll. We duly received the deed poll document showing change of name, including instructions on getting someone to witness and sign the document, which also includes both of our signatures. GOV.UK - guidance provides details of having to notify the change of name to the 'The Gazette', The Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London. However, we've been advised by the online company that this isn't necessary, so long as both parents consent to changing the name, and that the deed poll document is sufficient for any establishment to accept our son's change of name (primarily his school). Can you please clarify whether or not it is necessary to send notification to The Gazette, of our son's change of name to make it legally acceptable? Thank you.
Foysal - 20-Mar-18 @ 1:18 PM
Hi my ex partner hasite contacting me asking for me to agree to get my daughters surname changed and have mines removed. I don't get to see my daughter as arrangements always broke down tried the arrangements through the lawyers. It's been about 2-3 years since I last had contact. I don't want her name changed as I have not given up where do I stand?
Gtg - 12-Mar-18 @ 7:27 PM
hi I have 6 children altogether but 4 of them have same name as father and other 2 do not ( not biological father) but been in therelives since 3 months old there father is not on birth certificate so they have my second name, I plan on marrying my partner so did like us all to hve same second name?? does any1 have advice on this??
mummy6 - 26-Feb-18 @ 12:09 AM
AmandaM - Your Question:
Hi there I’m looking for some help regarding names and this site looked good at answering. I have a supervision order for my nephew and I’m trying to get his passport sorted. He has both his mother and fathers name in his name but not double barreled. His surname should be his fathers but as his father has had no contact most of his life so his mother uses her maiden name for school, doctors, dentist ect. The passport office have asked for a document stating name change but he has never legally had a name change as his mother’s name is within his name. Any advice on what I should do?

Our Response:
If there is no consent forthcoming from the father (or anyone else with parental responsibility), it may be necessary to apply to courts to get the name changed. The form is court form C100
LawAndParents - 21-Feb-18 @ 3:03 PM
Hi there I’m looking for some help regarding names and this site looked good at answering. I have a supervision order for my nephew and I’m trying to get his passport sorted. He has both his mother and fathers name in his name but not double barreled. His surname should be his fathers but as his father has had no contact most of his life so his mother uses her maiden name for school, doctors, dentist ect. The passport office have asked for a document stating name change but he has never legally had a name change as his mother’s name is within his name. Any advice on what I should do?
AmandaM - 21-Feb-18 @ 6:17 AM
Erica - Your Question:
My son is 5 years old in the state of TN the US. My self and his biological father never married. I never sent out my sons actual birth certificate. I currently have the mother's copy. His biological father is living in a different state has not attempted to make contact in over 3 years to his child. His father never filed for his rights to child. I never filed for child support. Again my son is 5 years old. So he a banded his child. How could I take his biological fathers name off the mother's copy of the birth certificate. To have his surname changed to my last name. Do I still have to attempt to contact the biological father even when he has no right? With no actual birth certificate was filed?

Our Response:
We don't know what the laws are surrounding this issue in the USA as we are a UK based website sorry.
LawAndParents - 7-Feb-18 @ 11:05 AM
I would like to change my children's surname and facing the following issues: I cannot get in tough with their biological father for several years, so cannot obtain his consent to change the surname. The children never took his surname. When I got married, I did not take his surname and on both of our children's birth certificates are my surname (not his). Since our divorce (8 years now), he has never financially supported the children and for the past 4 years doesn't make any attempts to see them. I want to change the children's surname because I got married, took my husband's surname, so now my and my youngest child's surnames are different from theirs. Will deed poll be enough or I need to apply for the specific issue order?
Anasko - 7-Feb-18 @ 9:38 AM
L23 - Your Question:
My husband has a dual citizenship, British and Irish. I have a son who is in my full custody since birth up to present. Apparently, my son is using his biological father's surname. My son and I are non British and live outside the UK. He met my son in 2014 during my husband's first visit. We have travelled abroad with my son together and several out of towns and they really get along well. I have asked my son's opinion about his stepdad adopting him and he was pleased to know that. Moreover, my husband and I want my son to include him in visa application for him to live with us in the UK as there will be no one to take care of him back home. My husband even considered of adopting my son but we know that the process is quite long and tedious. Fortunately, we came across to a site saying that the other option is changing name by deed poll. Is it possible for my husband who lives in the UK to apply deed of change of name for his step son? We desperately need your reply. Million thanks x

Our Response:
The consent of the biological father will be needed in order to change your son's surname.
LawAndParents - 6-Feb-18 @ 2:23 PM
My son is 5 years old in the state of TN the US. My self and his biological father never married. I never sent out my sons actual birth certificate. I currently have the mother's copy. His biological father is living in a different state has not attempted to make contact in over 3 years to his child. His father never filed for his rights to child. I never filed for child support. Again my son is 5 years old. So he a banded his child. How could I take his biological fathers name off the mother's copy of the birth certificate. To have his surname changed to my last name. Do I still have to attempt to contact the biological father even when he has no right? With no actual birth certificate was filed?
Erica - 6-Feb-18 @ 12:50 PM
My husband has a dual citizenship, British and Irish. I have a son who is in my full custody since birth up to present. Apparently, my son is using his biological father's surname. My son and I are non British and live outside the UK. He met my son in 2014 during my husband's first visit. We have travelled abroadwith my son together and several out of townsand they really get along well. I have asked my son's opinion about his stepdad adopting him and he was pleased to know that.Moreover, my husband and I want my son to include him in visa application for him to live with us in the UK as there will be no one to take care of him back home. My husband even considered of adopting my son but we know that the process is quite long and tedious. Fortunately, we came across to asite saying that the other option is changing name by deed poll. Is it possible for my husband who lives in the UK to apply deedof change of name for his step son? We desperately need your reply. Million thanks x
L23 - 5-Feb-18 @ 2:54 PM
anita - Your Question:
Can I give my newborn the fathers surname without adding him on the birth certficate we are not together anymore and he does not want parental responsibility.I have always liked his surname better than mine but would this cause further problems for me if my child has his surname ? if in future he wanted parental rights ?

Our Response:
If the father does want parental responsibility in the future he can still apply to the courts to have his name added to the birth certificate anyway if she chooses.
LawAndParents - 31-Jan-18 @ 3:18 PM
can I give my newborn the fathers surname without adding him on the birth certficate we are not together anymore and he does not want parental responsibility. I have always liked his surname better than mine but would this cause further problems for me if my child has his surname ? if in future he wanted parental rights ?
anita - 31-Jan-18 @ 8:04 AM
dobie - Your Question:
My husband and I changed my then 10 yr old daughters birth sirname to my husbands by using a solicitor she is now 33 and didn't havea say at the time shes used my husbands sirname since then 23 yrs can she legally reuse her birth sirname and change to this if so what would she have to do shes lost her change of name certificate and cannot get any copys as its been to long she needs to get photo id for jobs and passport she only has her ni card in her new name and birth certificate thanks

Our Response:
She can use whatever name she likes. If she wants to formalise this, she can apply to change her name by deed poll.
LawAndParents - 30-Jan-18 @ 10:39 AM
my husband and I changed my then 10 yr old daughters birth sirname to my husbands by using a solicitor she is now 33 and didn't havea say at the time shes used my husbands sirname since then 23 yrs can she legally reuse her birth sirname and change to this if so what would she have to do shes lost her change of name certificate and cannot get any copys as its been to long she needs to get photo id for jobs and passport she only has her ni card in her new name and birth certificate thanks
dobie - 27-Jan-18 @ 8:44 PM
Ls - Your Question:
Hi I have 3 boys with a double barrel surname.can I have have this changed to just my surname rather than both? Was told this is not possible. I split wity father and had domestic violence and other police involvement in regards to ex and am concerned that the children carrying his surname could be bad for them in future due to what there father has done. is this possible he has no involvement and is not allowed near me or the children by law please advise would be appreciated

Our Response:
You would have to apply to the courts and make a name change (without father's consent) request on the basis of what you've told us above. The form you will need is C100
LawAndParents - 26-Jan-18 @ 12:34 PM
Hi I have 3 boys with a double barrel surname.....can I have have this changed to just my surname rather than both? Was told this is not possible. I split wity father and had domestic violence and other police involvement in regards to ex and am concerned that the children carrying his surname could be bad for them in future due to what there father has done.. is this possible he has no involvement and is not allowed near me or the children by law please advise would be appreciated
Ls - 24-Jan-18 @ 12:40 PM
Pink - Your Question:
Hi,My 8 year old daughter has a double barrelled surname, mine and my ex boyfriends, we’ve been separated since she was 2, before she was born he was insistent that she not only be known by my last name hence the double barrel. I’ve since got married, my husband took my name as he didn’t want my daughter to feel left out and different (even though she’s double barrelled) from the rest of us and any future children we may have (we now also have a 2 year old daughter) she has weekly contact with her dad, but he has recently got married and taken his wife’s surname, which means our daughter now has a name that doesn’t belong to him. As he’s relinquished his surname am I entitled to change my daughters name to just mine without permission? He is on her birth certificate.

Our Response:
No, you need his permission.
LawAndParents - 19-Jan-18 @ 10:49 AM
Mommy - Your Question:
I have a 5 year old daughter turning 6 this year. She is using her biological father's surname. Since his father supported him until she was 2yrs old and after that he stopped because he impregnated somebody else. I bring the case to legal court and lastyear they gave a warrant of arrest for not giving financial support. But unforetunately they cannot locate him by his address before where they live. Maybe he changed his house because of that. Anyway, is it possible for me to file a legal action to change my daughters surname back to my maiden name? Since we dont know where is her father now. What are the requirements if ever? Coz she also wants to use my surname badly. Uts so hard for her to write and pronounce the long surname of her father. I hope the process will be fast so I can apply a passport for her.

Our Response:
If you cannot trace the father's whereabouts you can sometimes change the name by deed poll. If this is no approved, you will need a court order - here is a link to the information/form
LawAndParents - 16-Jan-18 @ 2:13 PM
Hi, My 8 year old daughter has a double barrelled surname, mine and my ex boyfriends, we’ve been separated since she was 2, before she was born he was insistent that she not only be known by my last name hence the double barrel. I’ve since got married, my husband took my name as he didn’t want my daughter to feel left out and different (even though she’s double barrelled) from the rest of us and any future children we may have (we now also have a 2 year old daughter) she has weekly contact with her dad, but he has recently got married and taken his wife’s surname, which means our daughter now has a name that doesn’t belong to him. As he’s relinquished his surname am I entitled to change my daughters name to just mine without permission? He is on her birth certificate.
Pink - 16-Jan-18 @ 8:22 AM
Emma - Your Question:
I have two children to my husband, one before we got married and one after. They are both in my maiden name as I wasn’t going to take my husbands name but have now decided too. How do I change my children’s name to his? He is on the birth certificates

Our Response:
If both the children's father agree, this should be a fairly straight forward process of changing the names by deed poll. Here is the form you need to complete plus fee details
LawAndParents - 15-Jan-18 @ 1:55 PM
I have a 5 year old daughter turning 6 this year.. She is using her biological father's surname. Since his father supported him until she was 2yrs old and after that he stopped because he impregnated somebody else. I bring the case to legal court and lastyear they gave a warrant of arrest for not giving financial support. But unforetunately they cannot locate him by his address before where they live. Maybe he changed his house because of that. Anyway, is it possible for me to file a legal action to change my daughters surname back to my maiden name? Since we dont know where is her father now. What are the requirements if ever? Coz she also wants to use my surname badly. Uts so hard for her to write and pronounce the long surname of her father. I hope the process will be fast so I can apply a passport for her.
Mommy - 13-Jan-18 @ 4:30 PM
I have two children to my husband, one before we got married and one after. They are both in my maiden name as I wasn’t going to take my husbands name but have now decided too. How do I change my children’s name to his? He is on the birth certificates
Emma - 12-Jan-18 @ 3:52 PM
nikki - Your Question:
Hi, been seperated from my husband 2 years now. He beat me up in front of our daughter who is 7. It resulted in 999 and has had harrassment warning about 18 months ago. He hasn't attempted to see our daughter and hasn't contributed financially. I am changing to my madien name my daughter wants to change too. Can she? I don't know where her dad is and he has changed his number. My solicitor wrote to a c/o address stating he can see her but he has never replied.

Our Response:
Sometimes if the father cannot be traced and there has been domestic violence, a deedpoll request will be allowed without the need for father's consent or for a court order. See this page for contact details etc
LawAndParents - 10-Jan-18 @ 3:29 PM
SL - Your Question:
My son's ex partner of a year has told us that their son who is 4 will be called by her surname when he goes to school. She has an older child at school with her surname, she wants them both to have the same surname. My son has both children to stay over usually twice every 8 days. We as a family are still part of their lives. From a baby he has always known his name as my son's. He is now starting to say her surname. What can we do to stop her using a known as name in school?

Our Response:
If your son, as the father, has parental responsibility,the mother cannot change the child's surname without his consent. If she does so, he can take action via the legal system.
LawAndParents - 10-Jan-18 @ 12:02 PM
Hi, been seperated from my husband 2 years now. He beat me up in front of our daughter who is 7. It resulted in 999 and has had harrassment warning about 18 months ago. He hasn't attempted to see our daughter and hasn't contributed financially. I am changing to my madien name my daughter wants to change too. Can she? I don't know where her dad is and he has changed his number. My solicitor wrote to a c/o address stating he can see her but he has never replied.
nikki - 9-Jan-18 @ 7:04 PM
My son's ex partner of a year has told us that their son who is 4 will be called by her surname when he goes to school. She has an older child at school with her surname, she wants them both to have the same surname. My son has both children to stay over usually twice every 8 days. We as a family are still part of their lives. From a baby he has always known his name as my son's. He is now starting to say her surname. What can we do to stop her using a known as name in school?
SL - 7-Jan-18 @ 6:20 PM
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