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Changing a Child's Surname

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 16 Jan 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]
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
My friend used to married but they were separated for over 10 years and she got a son with other and she still using her ex last name for her son . The point is right now they got divorce and she changed back her last name to what she had before married . Can she change her son last name back .
Ah - 6-Jan-18 @ 4:03 AM
My ex has remarried and has another child with her current husband but they have "unofficially" changed my daughter's surname to theirs. When I say unofficially I mean that my daughter has been registered at her school under her christened name but is being called by her "preferred" name. I had no say in this decision whatsoever, and it was only by chance that I found out Is this allowed, or am I within my legal rights to tell the school that she must be known and addressed by her christened name I'm not sure about any out of school clubs that she attends and how I could influence them. Many thanks
Will - 20-Dec-17 @ 6:49 PM
My daughter has my ex’s surname.But he changed his surname two years ago without telling me. Now he wont let me change or double barrell her surname so at least she has one of our surnames. What can i do?
Lou - 6-Dec-17 @ 9:50 AM
Mother - Your Question:
Hi I have a three year old son his biological father has been out of the picture since he was 10months old due to social services saying it need to go to a contact centre which has not happened since then I have recently done suprervised visit in the park with my current partner and my son and his father he sees him for a hour and that's it and he has already failed to see him already. He has never paid any maintance or helped with anything the only reason why he got to see my son as we saw him in the town that I live in. I have a child with my current partner and see has my partners surname and my three year old son has my surname can I change my sons surname to my partners surname so he can have the same surname as his sister and me as we are planning to get married

Our Response:
You need the consent of the natural father to change a child's name by deed poll. If you don't have the consent you will need to apply to the courts for the name change.
LawAndParents - 5-Dec-17 @ 1:00 PM
Hi I have a three year old son his biological father has been out of the picture since he was 10months old due to social services saying it need to go to a contact centre which has not happened since then I have recently done suprervised visit in the park with my current partner and my son and his father he sees him for a hour and that's it and he has already failed to see him already. He has never paid any maintance or helped with anything the only reason why he got to see my son as we saw him in the town that I live in. I have a child with my current partner and see has my partners surname and my three year old son has my surname can I change my sons surname to my partners surname so he can have the same surname as his sister and me as we are planning to get married
Mother - 2-Dec-17 @ 9:53 PM
Wentworth - Your Question:
Hi my son's father was in prison when he was born so when I registered him I put my maiden name, as I had to older daughter's from a previous marriage and double-barreled their names. When he goes released from prison I had another son with him. so when.y first son started nursery I put his surname as power "his father's surname" because I knew 2 years later my youngest son would go to they same school. So both son are known as power but I'm worried now as my oldest son is 14 years and it won't be long before he needs identification for banks etc. Pleas could you help and is it an expensive feeThanksMelanie Hilliard

Our Response:
As long as both parents agree on the name change, you can do this by deed poll. The fee is £36.
LawAndParents - 1-Dec-17 @ 3:02 PM
Hi my son's father was in prison when he was born so when I registered him I put my maiden name, as I had to older daughter's from a previous marriage and double-barreled their names. When he goes released from prison I had another son with him.. so when .y first son started nursery I put his surname as power "his father's surname" because I knew 2 years later my youngest son would go to they same school. So both son are known as power but I'm worried now as my oldest son is 14 years and it won't be long before he needs identification for banks etc. Pleas could you help and is it an expensive fee Thanks Melanie Hilliard
Wentworth - 30-Nov-17 @ 10:10 AM
My daughter has my ex’s surname.But he changed it two years ago without telling me. Now he wont let me change or double barrell hers so at least she has one of our surnames. Can i get a court order?
Loulou - 21-Nov-17 @ 7:28 PM
AJ - Your Question:
Trying to help my niece who had a boyfriend and they had a son but they never lived together and indeed separated before the child was born, he has paid no or very little child support and 7 years later she married to her partner. The child ha always had her surname but he is refusing to give permission to allow the newly wed couple to take her husbands surname as she has. Seems very unfair

Our Response:
She can apply to the courts to have the name changed. The courts may consider allowing the name change if the father is not involved in the children's lives at all. The fact that he doesn't pay maintenance will not really have any bearing on the case.
LawAndParents - 1-Nov-17 @ 3:47 PM
Trying to help my niece who had a boyfriend and they had a son but they never lived together and indeed separated before the child was born, he has paid no or very little child support and 7 years later she married to her partner. The child ha always had her surnamebut he is refusing to give permission to allow the newly wed couple to take her husbands surname as she has. Seems very unfair
AJ - 31-Oct-17 @ 9:36 PM
Dad - Your Question:
Hi. my daughter has a double barrel name (mine and her mams surname.) however I have just found out that her mam has registered my daughter as only her surname with her school. I asked her mam if she would change it to her name that is on the birth certificate and she said she would, however she hasn't. Is their something I can do to get my daughters name changed to her real name?( I am on my daughters birth certificate and have always been in my daughters life and have regular contact with her!)

Our Response:
You could try contacting the school directly. Schools usually use any "official" name (i.e the name that is on a birth certificate/passport etc) on a school file but will concur with parents' wishes for a "known as name - that may be what's happened here.
LawAndParents - 31-Oct-17 @ 12:37 PM
Hi. my daughter has a double barrel name (mine and her mams surname.) however I have just found out that her mam has registered my daughter as only her surname with her school. I asked her mam if she would change it to her name that is on the birth certificate and she said she would, however she hasn't. Is theirsomething I can do to get my daughters name changed to her real name? ( I am on my daughters birth certificate and have always been in my daughters life and have regular contact with her!)
Dad - 28-Oct-17 @ 4:33 PM
Samdav578 - Your Question:
Hi my partner has three kids all his kids got double barrel last names so their mothers last name then his last name but for some reason she had asked to change it and take hers out he’s asked bumptious times why now after all this time and she keeps saying personal reasons he hasn’t a clue what to do and why she being like this he has his kids when he’s ment to and much more and all she has done is be awkward so it’s hard to trust what she saying could some help please

Our Response:
We don't know what her reasons could be but as long as his name is not being removed, we guess he doesn't really mind? He doesn't have to consent to the name change anyway.
LawAndParents - 17-Oct-17 @ 10:17 AM
Fred - Your Question:
My stepson father walked out on him when he was 2 he is 13 now. I have been with his Mum 10years and married 2years how could we change his name we have no contact with his father. Thanks

Our Response:
Firstly try and contact the natural father and ask his consent. If you cannot trace his whereabouts or he will not consent, you will need to apply to court for the name change.
LawAndParents - 16-Oct-17 @ 11:11 AM
Hi my partner has three kids all his kids got double barrel last names so their mothers last name then his last name but for some reason she had asked to change it and take hers out he’s asked bumptious times why now after all this time and she keeps saying personal reasons he hasn’t a clue what to do and why she being like this he has his kids when he’s ment to and much more and all she has done is be awkward so it’s hard to trust what she saying could some help please
Samdav578 - 16-Oct-17 @ 1:13 AM
Hi My daughter was sexually abused by her father- we have been awaiting the CPS to make a decision now- after a collection of evidence for nearly a year and half now. My daughter is very stressed having his name and has been requesting it gets changed- I was awaiting the court case but as it has been a long process I feel it best to change it now. She would like my surname and to remove her middle names which are his name (an arabic tradition). Her counsellor has expressed the improtance of me doing so, but I am not sure how to go about it. I am not intouch with her father for obvious reasons. I would like to renew her passport with her new name since it has expired. He is named on her birth certificate. Please can you help me?
Andi- - 15-Oct-17 @ 7:15 PM
My stepson father walked out on him when he was 2 he is 13 now. I have been with his Mum 10years and married 2years how could we change his name we have no contact with his father. Thanks
Fred - 13-Oct-17 @ 10:54 AM
Cass - Your Question:
I am in a court battle with my sons father as the moment and the father hasn’t been involved in my sons life consistently at all and my son is now 10. I changed my sons name when he was 5 to the same as mine and during a court hearing the judge decided to change it to a double barrel name which I objected but was forced. I have taken the paperwork into the school and the school informed me that my son can have a known by name for his books and In class but on the school system he will have the name ordered by court. Today the school have rang to say that actually because of the court case and order I am unable to have a known by name, is this correct?

Our Response:
As long as the paperwork and school records show his full double barrelled name - he can be called whatever he chooses.
LawAndParents - 10-Oct-17 @ 3:49 PM
I am in a court battle with my sons father as the moment and the father hasn’t been involved in my sons life consistently at all and my son is now 10. I changed my sons name when he was 5 to the same as mine and during a court hearing the judge decided to change it to a double barrel name which I objected but was forced. I have taken the paperwork into the school and the school informed me that my son can have a known by name for his books and In class but on the school system he will have the name ordered by court. Today the school have rang to say that actually because of the court case and order I am unable to have a known by name, is this correct?
Cass - 9-Oct-17 @ 2:41 PM
I understand that a child's legal name has to be used when registering but my question was how to do I go about using a known as name. The father lives in London. (No idea where or who he is employed by) Said our child was dead to him and hasn't seen her since. He wouldn't go to the trouble of taking me to court so that isnt an issue. If he can't pay child support in almost 3 years he isn't going to bother paying court costs for a child he wants nothing to do with. Thank you
Nikki - 4-Oct-17 @ 10:45 PM
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