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Changing a Child's Surname

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 14 Feb 2017 | 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]
Hi I have a daughter who is 10 in march her biological father walked away when she was 2 nearly 3 and no contact has been made since. I have since met my former partner who has brought up my daughter and supported her I tryed many ways to contact her biological father about change of name and never had anything back other than a message from a family member stating her biological father has already told me he wants nothing to do with my or my daughter now iv changed her name by depol but im having trouble with her passport I cant afford court right now n iv still no contact details for her biological father any advice on what I can do x
jenna - 14-Feb-17 @ 5:05 PM
I'm separated from my kids father since 2009 n he's not allowed to see the kids I want to changed my kids dads last name to mine without his permission ??
Shaz - 27-Jan-17 @ 10:39 PM
My daughter is 2 and a half but hasn't seen her dad in 2 years, she currently has his surname but I now want it double barrelled but he will only give permission if his name is last without a hyphen. If this was to happen then would it still be possible for my surname to be classed as everything for her? (I know full surname will have to be on official documents) but I've heard people say that they class the first surname as more of a middle name, I just wanted to know if I would have problems since it was be the end name.
Kay - 25-Jan-17 @ 3:04 PM
Mhairi- Your Question:
My ex partner made me double barrel my surname when I became pregnant with our first child and I refused to abort. When we registered our son I didn't realise he had put just his surname and he then said that the child would be known as the double barrelled name I went by. He wouldn't change it officially and my life became awful as he changed from a man who spoilt me to a very aggressive controlling person. I eventually got pregnant and she was given the double barrelled name and again he refused to pay for my son's that day saying I hadn't been good enough by the time she was born we were already separating. When we eventually separated both children were known just as mine we all dropped his name he agreed to this at the school. However 5 year's on the school my children are now are threatening me to change my 11 year old son's back to just his can this happen after 11 year's?

Our Response:
The school cannot change your children's name from the name they are "known as" but their registered names are those that need to be on all official forms etc. You can change the names easily by deed poll if their father consents to it. Here's the link to the government website where you can download the application form.
LawAndParents - 11-Jan-17 @ 10:32 AM
Djtrump - Your Question:
Hi gradually my ex has poisoned my son against me and I havent seen him in months and he doesnt want to see me and ive recently heard hes maybe changing his name to her name. Is it true both parents have to consent or can a judge rule it. No way am I going to court as im still paying of the last nightmare? Also ive paid faithfully from the day she walked, but if she did change his nane will I still be responsible fir csa payments?

Our Response:
Your consent is needed before his name can be changed assuming you have parental responsibility (see the above article to check). If you do not give your consent your ex partner can apply for a court order to change it but she will have to explain her reasons for the change and that you have refused consent. If his name is changed, you still have to pay maintenance as he's your child.
LawAndParents - 11-Jan-17 @ 10:28 AM
Lana - Your Question:
My daughter fell pregnant at the age of 14. And doesnt know who the father is. My husband and I took the baby because she didnt want him. His 5 years old now and we want to change is surname to ours for she has a other surname. How can we do it without father consent for we dont know who he is and our son only knows us as his parents and our surname to not my daughters. Please give advise thank you

Our Response:
If you have parental responsibility you can apply to change the name by deed poll. Here's where you can download the application form
LawAndParents - 11-Jan-17 @ 10:25 AM
My ex partner made me double barrel my surname when I became pregnant with our first child and I refused to abort. When we registered our son I didn't realise he had put just his surname and he then said that the child would be known as the double barrelled name I went by. He wouldn't change it officially and my life became awful as he changed from a man who spoilt me to a very aggressive controlling person.I eventually got pregnant and she was given the double barrelled name and again he refused to pay for my son's that day saying I hadn't been good enough by the time she was born we were already separating. ... When we eventually separated both children were known just as mine we all dropped his namehe agreed to this at the school. However 5 year's on the school my children are now are threatening meto change my 11 year old son's back to just his can this happen after 11 year's?
Mhairi - 8-Jan-17 @ 12:27 PM
Hi gradually my ex has poisoned my son against me and i havent seen him in months and he doesnt want to see me and ive recently heard hes maybe changing his name to her name. Is it true both parents have to consent or can a judge rule it. No way am i going to court as im still paying of the last nightmare? Also ive paid faithfully from the day she walked, but if she did change his nane will i still be responsible fir csa payments?
Djtrump - 6-Jan-17 @ 4:21 PM
My daughter fell pregnant at the age of 14. And doesnt know who the father is. My husband and i took the baby because she didnt want him. His 5 years old now and we want to change is surname to ours for she has a other surname. How can we do it without father consent for we dont know who he is and our son only knows us as his parents and our surname to not my daughters. Please give advise thank you
Lana - 6-Jan-17 @ 6:35 AM
To whom it may concern: My son currently carries my last name. My father brought it to my attention that I need to consider adding or changing my son's last name to his deceased Father's name since his father was an only child and he is a male. My son is 10 years old. It is something that I want to do, how should I go about actually changing or adding his last name. Thanks in advance. Tonya.
Tonya - 10-Dec-16 @ 6:21 PM
Can I change my sons surname to mine on his birth certificate with his father's permission
jo - 17-Nov-16 @ 7:35 PM
Jessica - Your Question:
I have 13yr old twin daughters. I was 18 when they were born and foolishly thought their father would always be a part of their life and gave them his last name. 3 months after their birth we split and he never even came around to visit them unless his mother forced him to. He hasn't seen them since they were a year old and don't even know where he is nor do I receive child support payments from him! My daughters have recently expressed their desire to change their last name to my own. Do I need his permission to change their last names if he's never been a part of their lives?

Our Response:
If you cannot get his consent, you will need to apply for a court order (C100) to have their names changed.
LawAndParents - 15-Nov-16 @ 10:02 AM
I have 13yr old twin daughters.I was 18 when they were born and foolishly thought their father would always be a part of their life and gave them his last name. 3 months after their birth we split and he never even came around to visit them unless his mother forced him to. He hasn't seen them since they were a year old and don't even know where he is nor do I receive child support payments from him! My daughters have recently expressed their desire to change their last name to my own. Do I need his permission to change their last names if he's never been a part of their lives?
Jessica - 13-Nov-16 @ 8:19 AM
Is this a crime on her part as this has effected me big time feel like all been a lie making me live in a differnt name to then effect me when I'm older Don't think this is right
Vm - 11-Nov-16 @ 2:29 PM
My mum changed my unifficially when I was 2 in the year 89, at the age of 27 due to a job carried out a dbs who told me , they couldn't do one as my birth verification was in my biological fathers name, I therefore loads the job as I had to ally through deedpoll to be changed to the one on my birth verification also solicitors document to support my name change,on effect I've lived a falso life my qualifications are void.
Vm - 11-Nov-16 @ 2:27 PM
ren23 - Your Question:
I'd like to change my sons surname he is on the birth certificate but he hasn't seen my son in 7 years we don't know where he is and I don't get CSA from him either and he was violent and abusive to us all my daughters have my maiden name so I would like my son to have my name to how do I stand with this please?

Our Response:
You need to apply to the court to have the name changed. You'll be expected to explain why you can't get the father's consent etc The court form you need is form C100 - choose Specific Issue Order.
LawAndParents - 11-Nov-16 @ 2:20 PM
I'd like to change my sons surname he is on the birth certificate but he hasn't seen my son in 7 years we don't know where he is and I don't get CSA from him either and he was violent and abusive to us all my daughters have my maiden name so I would like my son to have my name to how do I stand with this please?
ren23 - 10-Nov-16 @ 2:57 PM
Liny - Your Question:
Hi, my partner left me 3 years ago. We have one young child who is registered in his surname. He has refused several times to agree to child having a double barrel surname as I wish to add my surname to it. I have started using the double barrel name and child also likes having my name added to it. I have found out today that the ex has taken photos of the double barrel surname that I have written in child's school reading record which from past experience will be passed onto a solicitor and I will be bullied again by his legal team. Am I in my rights to call and use a double barrel name even though it's not a legal change? Thanks

Our Response:
You have not removed the father's surname and have added your own for uniformity, so that your child does not have a different surname to yours. The courts would probably view this as being in the best of your child, so it's unlikely your ex would get very far if legal action were taken.
LawAndParents - 8-Nov-16 @ 11:35 AM
Hi, my partner left me 3 years ago . We have one young child who is registered in his surname. He has refused several times to agree to child having a double barrel surname as I wish to add my surname to it. I have started using the double barrel name and child also likes having my name added to it. I have found out today that the ex has taken photos of the double barrel surname that I have written in child's school reading record which from past experience will be passed onto a solicitor and I will be bullied again by his legal team. Am I in my rights to call and use a double barrel name even though it's not a legal change? Thanks
Liny - 6-Nov-16 @ 6:47 PM
Mrsst1 - Your Question:
Hi my daughter is 9 months old and although married when she was born and my husband being her father I used my maiden name for her surname. How can I add or change her last name to our family name?

Our Response:
You can apply to have the name changed either at the register office where the original registration took place or the General Registry Office. There's more information here
LawAndParents - 17-Oct-16 @ 12:59 PM
Hi my daughter is 9 months old and although married when she was born and my husband being her father I used my maiden name for her surname. How can I add or change her last name to our family name?
Mrsst1 - 16-Oct-16 @ 2:30 PM
meesch - Your Question:
Hi my stepson is 19 yrs old his mother registered him at birth in her name his dad knew but was told later she wanted to change her name by deed poll to his , he was always then known as his dads surname but his birth cert was maiden name he has lost his passport and now needs a replacement as he is struggling to provide any legal document. We are trying to help him he is going to change his name too by deed poll to his dads and he has had a passport two previous ones in his dads name can we use a deed poll to get his passport replaced as he is soon to be 20 years old , also he has a son registered at birth in the surname he believed to be does that mean that is also now unofficial? Please could you advise us.

Our Response:
To get his passport replaced he could try reporting the one he's lost Information is here. It might be easier than trying to change names by deed poll etc
LawAndParents - 5-Oct-16 @ 10:29 AM
Hi my stepson is 19 yrs old his mother registered him at birth in her name his dad knew but was told later she wanted to change her name by deed poll to his , he was always then known as his dads surname but his birth cert was maiden name he has lost his passport and now needs a replacement as he is struggling to provide any legal document . We are trying to help him he is going to change his name too by deed poll to his dads and he has had a passport two previous ones in his dads name can we use a deed poll to get his passport replaced as he is soon to be 20 years old , also he has a son registered at birth in the surname he believed to be does that mean that is also now unofficial? Please could you advise us.
meesch - 4-Oct-16 @ 5:47 AM
FON & UFT - Your Question:
I would like to add my surname to my daughters. My daughter currently has her fathers name only. My intention is for her to have both surnames and have a double barrelled name reflecting both. My ex has refused to give his written permission and has parental responsibility. I do not want to remove his simply add mine for purposes of passports and school etc. Can I take this matter to court?

Our Response:
Yes you can but often double barrelling a name is acceptable without taking it to the courts.
LawAndParents - 20-Sep-16 @ 12:14 PM
I would like to add my surname to my daughters. My daughter currently has her fathers name only. My intention is for her to have both surnames and have a double barrelled name reflecting both. My ex has refused to give his written permission and has parental responsibility. I do not want to remove his simply add mine for purposes of passports and school etc. Can I take this matter to court?
FON & UFT - 18-Sep-16 @ 4:25 PM
Hi there.I'm in Scotland and am looking for advice please.My husband was removed from our family home after I couldn't take no more of him hitting me. I have a new man in my life & my children now think of him as their dad. He plays Lego with my son who's only 8 and to an 8 year old boy that's what a dad does, his real dad didn't. My boy wants to be known by his step-dad's surname. I have heard that I can collect a form so my child can be 'known as ....' I understand his name can not be changed officially but is it ok to have him 'known as' ? Thank you
s&d - 17-Sep-16 @ 7:10 PM
Hi my 15 year old son has always had a double barrel name But we have only ever used one which is mine Me and his father agree if it's possible to remove his name so our son only has my surname how do we go about changing all of this legally please
Ange - 16-Sep-16 @ 10:58 AM
Apart from the name change possibly being overturned....what could happen if a mother changes a child's name without fathers permission? Can anything happen to them? Like a punishment from the court?
Pat - 11-Sep-16 @ 10:50 PM
hi my now 1 year old child has my surname (mother) and his dad has put in to court to change his surname to his (fathers) we are unmarried, never lived together and not on bc although he has been awarded PR . I dont want double barrelled how can i stop this happening :(
blueberry - 1-Sep-16 @ 11:59 AM
My daughter is going to be 15yrs soon she wants to change her surname so it's the same as mine. Me and her dad divorced 7yrs ago he does not bother with her he does not pay we don't know where he lives and he does not have no contact by phone even his family don't know where he is. Is this possible to do
Hayley Keegan - 31-Aug-16 @ 4:30 PM
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