There may come a time – usually as a result of a divorce – where a parent wishes to change their child’s surname to mirror that of their own, especially if they are reverting to their maiden name.
This is a relatively common procedure and one that can be carried out using the services of a solicitor specialising in family law. Here, we look at the reasons for such a change in name and how it is brought about.
Registering Your Child’s Name at Birth
When your child is born you have 42 days in which to register their name. If you are one half of a married couple, both parents must attend the registering of the child’s name and must both agree on what names should be written on the birth certificate.
If the parents of the newborn are not married, the mother may opt to have the child’s surname to read the same as hers. The right of the father to have his surname shown on the child’s birth certificate should be taken into consideration and the name should only be used if the father consents. The law is very clear and states that a mother may not give her child the surname of the child’s father unless he so consents.
Why Change the Child’s Surname?
It is the mother’s right to revert to her own maiden name (her name before marriage) after divorce if she so chooses. She can also request to have the surname of her child or children changed to reflect this, but she MUST seek permission from the father before doing so.
If the mother marries again and subsequently has children with her new husband, she may wish to have all of her children bearing the same surname. This can only be with the agreement of the children’s birth father, especially if his name is on the birth certificates and the children are known by his surname. Again, it is the father's legal right to refuse.
What Happens if the Father Refuses?
Sadly, this is an all too common scenario as many fathers who have split from their children’s mothers wish to have their family name carried on. If the father does not agree to the name change, the mother should realistically abandon the idea.
But if the children’s mother changes their surnames without the father's consent, he may seek legal advice and appeal to a court, who will rule as to whether or not the name change is (a) necessary and (b) detrimental to the upbringing of the children.
Changing the Surname if One Parent Remarries
If either parent remarries and wishes to change the surname of their children, they must seek the other parent’s permission to do so. It is worth noting, however, that in most cases a court will rule against this if one or other parent disputes the reasons for changing the children’s surname.
For unmarried parents where the mother or father wishes to change the children’s surnames, the likelihood is that the court will allow this, especially if the father has not agreed to have his name on the birth certificate.
If this is an issue that affects you or you think it might, you should discuss the matter with the other parent and listen to their views. If you are the parent who disagrees then you should consult a solicitor specialising in family law before pursuing the matter further.
It is important to take the feelings of the children into consideration and to emphasise that whatever surname they carry they will be thought of no differently.
If me an my babys dad aint married can i change her last name to mi n e without permision from him?because she has his last namehe thinks his got more rights then me has he got more right becausemy babyhas hisname ?
titchy - 26-May-13 @ 12:18 AM
My finances daughter is 8 and has until last month always had her mothers surname. We have regular (tho not as regular as we would like) contact with her and have great relationships with her. Her mother decided in December to change her name to the name of her new boyfriend who she has been with for around 2 years as a Christmas present to him. They have a child together who was born in August. My parter is understandably distressed by this, he would be more than happy if they were married for his child to take a family name or could even have understood if it had coincided with the birth of the other child but now his daughter does not share her name with either of her parents and today said that as she shares his name her mothers boyfriend has more 'control' of her than anyone else which greatly worries us both. She is confused as they are asking her to call him dad and she is frequently weepy and upset can you advise of my fiances rights in this situation or a course of action. We live in Scotland and the child was born in 2004 meaning the mother has full parental right depite her father being named on the birth certificate.
El - 3-Feb-13 @ 12:06 AM
Hi - my daughter is 7 next month and hasnt seen the man named on her birth certificate for 6 years. she has my surname but I have got marrieD last week to my partner of over 5 years and would like us all to have the same name. Do I need permission to change her name? How would I do it? Any information is appreciated, thank you!
Don - 17-Oct-12 @ 9:29 AM
i have just married my partner and she has a 6 yr old son, i have been with them since he was 2 and the biological farther named on the birth certificate (so has PR) has had no contact since then as he is currently serving a 7 yr prison sentance for arson with intent. our issue is that we want to change her sons last name from her maiden name (on birth certificate) to her now married name but we dont have contact with the farther he has never paid maintance etc and we dont know where we stand legaly no case studies have this listed. our issues are he has PR so we need his permision, we cant find him, her son never had the bioloigcal farthers name anyway. HELP?
Dan - 25-Sep-12 @ 1:58 PM
my stepdaughter had her name changed back to her mums maiden name when her mum and dad split up . i marriedand her mum and wehave had two other children and she has been known by my name since she was 4 the question is she wants tobe legally known with my name can she change it herself now as she is 16
titch - 22-Sep-12 @ 7:40 PM
hey. my daughters has my surname on her birth certificate. i want to change her surname to something different from her dads andmy surname because of religion purpose. can i have it changed? i also want this to been shown her birth certficate? my daughter is a year old. i have had her first name changed when she was 6 months old . thanks
h.a - 6-Sep-12 @ 9:58 PM
my 17 year old son'sgirl fried has just had his baby, and is having his name on the birth certificate but the baby is not taking his surname, will my son still have legal rights over the baby if this is not done, and what are the implications this may cause in the future.
cassie - 5-Aug-12 @ 1:41 AM
hi can you please help me get the certificate for my child , since applied for the change of surname in 2010 arround December even know i am still phoning & goinng to home affairs and i filled all the relavant document but there is avail
I was given the case no each time i phone the call center , the case no is : 1206028486
please help me on this matter , my phone no is 0716219639 .
Vince - 2-Aug-12 @ 10:59 AM
my son has his fathers surname,i would like to know if my surname can be added as we are not married and when or if going on holiday i need his permissionand he makes it very difficultand goes out his way to make life as akward as he possibly can . thank you ,,,,mary lee .my sons name is John Conor Sykes and was born on 9/5/1998
marydawl - 17-Jul-12 @ 4:54 PM
My son who is 10 has expressed a desire to have the same surname as myself.His dad and I split when he was only 4 weeks old (we were not married) and he took me to court for PR and to have his name changed back after I change it by Deed Poll when he was young, he had originally verbally agreed but then changed his mind some months down the line when a new woman came on the scene!
He saw our son until the age of 3 then stopped seeing him and I initiated contact again when he was 8 1/2 at my son's request.This contact has been sporadic for the last 18 months and has caused our son some issues both at home and school and our son has now said that he no longer wishes to see his dad again so contact stopped 3 months ago.Since writing to his dad 3 months ago to notify him of this decision he has not acknowledged my letter nor tried to contact our son or myself.
There is an Order which states that our son's surname is that of his father's but he wants to change it to that of mine and I want to know that given he is allowed to have an opinion about seeing his father can he also have one about his name?
Ali - 16-Jul-12 @ 3:23 PM
i recently split from my sons dad 2months ago after discovering he was cheating on meduring our 2year relationship. when registering our sons birth , i felt i had no choice but to put my sons dads surname as his dad is a very intimidating person. hes seen his son about 5 times. and when we make arrangementd for him to see his son hes always a couple of hourablatq or sometimes doesnt even show up!and thats because hes always with his new gf. i desperately want to change his surname or at least have my surname included. please could i get some advice!
jaz - 16-Jul-12 @ 10:10 AM
I'm 6 months pregnantbeen married for almost a year I was mentally abused for the last 5 months so I left my husband. We haven't filed for divorce yet but eventually we will. I want to give the baby my last name since I'm still married and have my husbands last name I want to give the baby my maiden last name.He can still be listed in birth certificate as the father but can the baby's name appear legally with my maiden name? Plz help
Ness - 3-Jun-12 @ 8:59 AM
Just wondering if you can help me my daughter lives with her mum and new partner she is 3 1/2 hermum is getting married in augest and has told me she is changing my daughter name which i am not happy about i am aware she can not take my surname away from my daughter, but she has told me she is allowed to add her new married new on to my daughters name as long as my name is the last. is this true or will she still require my authorisation
and am i able to advise schools that i do not want the change to take place on a day to day basis
rob - 29-May-12 @ 7:02 PM
My daughters father has been in prison since I got pregnant he never signed her birth certificate but I gave her his lastname , my daughter is now 3years old & I want her to have my lastname. How can I go about changing her lastname to mine?
Eb - 25-May-12 @ 12:56 AM
Hi.. I have 2 children from a previous marriage age 8 and 10. I would like to revert back to my maiden name and my children have also stated they would like to changer their name too.. My ex has had no contact with the children for more than 5 years maybe 6 and I have no idea where he is so I can not get his permission.. Please help as I have heard that my eldest child can change her name at age 11 without his permission.
Andrea - 22-May-12 @ 7:48 PM
I have 3 children with my ex he does see them every two weeks but I all do have twins with my new partner would I be able to add my partner sir name to my children's sir name making it a double barrel name so all my kids are the same or do I need permission to do so
Flutterbaby123 - 18-May-12 @ 1:18 PM
Hi, My ex-partner and me lived to gether for a one year and, as soon as started our relation ship she was pregnent. So after we has cute little girl and we register baby under our names. So I given my surname to baby. Later my partner and me desided to seperate. But unfortunatly now I aware through DNA test, that baby was't my own baby. She has already pregnent when she starting affare with me. So, now I need to remove Surnamy from the birth certificate of her.
Ian - 11-May-12 @ 6:56 PM
Hi my soon to be ex wife is pregnant with my daughtershe has basically tried to run me out of the life. I want to know if its possible we get a divorce if she can up and name or daughter without discussing it with me and I'm talking about both first and last name
xero - 2-Apr-12 @ 10:45 PM
Hello I would like to change my 4 year old daughters last name. To my current partner I have another child with him and the same as his as my daughters is double barreled with my ex and my last name my ex hasn't seen his daughter for two years now he doesn't pay he doesn't send cards presents I don't even know where he lives my current partner has been her father since 1 and ahalf whwhen I 1st got with my current partner her bio father visited twice in 6 months then didn't ever bother I would like her surname to go in my current partners surname as he stepped up and is her father he helped me bring her up and make her the lovely little girl she is today can my ex do anything to stop me doing this we are looking in to adoption so she can legally be his she calls himm daddy and he has never treated diffrent because 1 is blood and the other isn't if anyone has any advice I'd be so greatful mE and my partner aren't married I don't share his last name but I'd like both of his children to as he deserves it :)
amb - 5-Mar-12 @ 2:31 AM
I was with my child's father for a short time , my child's surname is double barrelled with his fathers surname and my ex married surname (refecting a link to my other children) .
I am soon to remarry and have come to realise that my sons surname is a bit of a mess, so I would like him to change this to simplify things .My sons fathers does not see him since fleeing to a refuge when he was 8 months ( he' now 3) . I am unable to approach the father asking for a name change and know it would be pointless . I know my ex personality and know he would get great satisfaction of saying no and being in controll.Any advise would be appreciated ,
Lyraa - 29-Feb-12 @ 10:40 PM
My son has his bio fathers name, we r not together. I am with someone else and have since had a daughter with my partner. We r very happy and plan to marry in the future. My surname is Reynolds my sons is something different and my partner and daughter have another surname. Wen I fill out forms that ask for my full name and my children's full names I hate having to write 3 diff surnames. It's horrible. Soon me and my daughter will hav the same last name but my son still won't as his bio father will not agree to me changing his name. He does see him regularly now but is quite unreliable wen it comes to providing for him and letting him down. Wen i registered my sons birth i had no choice but to giv him his fathers name as i didnt want him to hav my last name because it is my fathers and he is absent in my life. I didnt want my son to continue the name as my father wasnt worthy of that. The bio father is on my sons birth certificate so how wud I change that if he won't agree? It is in my sons best interest as his sister step father nd myself, his mother, will soon all b the same nd he will b the only one wiv a different 1?
Shell - 22-Feb-12 @ 1:37 AM
ive been seperated from my ex partner for three years,it was a volitile relationship ship,,he was taking drugs and mentally abusing myself and our daughter,,we never married but his name is on the birth certificate,he hasnt seen his daughter for 3 years , i want to change her name to mine is there anything he can do to stop this happening
lally - 29-Jan-12 @ 4:28 PM
My daughter is 3 years old, she has her mother's surname because she refused to give her my surname (my name is on my daughter's birth certificate), but next year, her mother is getting married and wants to change my daughter's surname to her married surname.As I'm the bio father, I think it's wrong.On top of that, I was recently told by her mother that I'm not my daughter's father anymore, that I'm to be called by my first name and not as her dad.What people have to realise is that, the bio father has a right to be acknoledged, not to be brushed to one side, so having my surname acknoledges me, plus some women get married a number of times, so children end up with different surnames.It makes me laugh that some women just want the surname changing just because it looks and sounds better as a family.A bio father is the father for ever, I don't agree with step father either, they should just be known as a guardian wether they married the mother or not.Having a father doesn't mean much in law, it's virtually equal with Father Christmas.
Gaz - 15-Dec-11 @ 5:26 PM
Hi, my son is 8 years old and has my maiden name, his natural father was not present at birth regestration so is not on the birth certificate and has had no contact from 12 months old.
I have since been married and my son now calls himself by my married name, can i change his name legally to the same surname as myself and my husband? if so how do i do this? Thanks.
Ali - 17-Nov-11 @ 12:17 PM
Hi me & my partner have been together for over 10 years, we have 2 children (7 & 4), both have my partners surname. We plan to marry in a year, what options are open to us to have the children's names changed to my surname? (married name). Both are my biological children
Johnny888 - 9-Nov-11 @ 9:45 AM
Hi there....my child is adopted but wants to change his surname to mine (I have reverted to my maiden name) as his adopted father and I are now divorced and he is currently in prison. Where do we stand ?
fairy sparkle - 3-Nov-11 @ 3:54 PM
Hi, my 17yr old daughter had my name until recently when she changed her name to her step father's surname. She has by her own consent for the last 4 years had no contact with me, but i do see my youngest daughter often. Do i have any rights, and do i still have to pay maintenence for my eldest daugher many thanks
bm - 15-Oct-11 @ 5:59 PM
Hello my daughter is 9, On her birth certificate it as my name and mothers name using doublebarral. We where never married, I see my daughter regerly ,my ex keeps on rubbing out and crossing out my name and keeping hers, I do have parental responsabitery my daughters happy with her hole name, but her moms not ,and she as remarried with a different surname Is there anything I can do as her father ,the school use her proper name but I dont know about doctors and other things I got the school name put right,
Rick - 13-Oct-11 @ 8:28 PM
You can lawfully change your name to a known as name without permission.
It just means that legal documents remain in the birth certificate name.
This was something we thought about doing too once we were married.
Titchrules - 13-Sep-11 @ 12:58 PM
Hi all. My daughter is 3. She took my surname at birth NOT her fathers. He walked out when she was tiny. I have been with my partner for just under 3 years. were getting married next year. I want my daughters name to-change too. I don't agree with having separate surnames. We intend to extend our little family next year too. Father is on birth certificate also. Still has regular contact. But no naming ties to my daughter. The father won't give consent to change her surname.