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Changing a Child's Surname

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 25 Sep 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 my daughters biologic father has had no contact with her since she was 3 she is now 8 , she is known as with my husband surname since she was 4can I change her surname legally by deed poll or do I need to go to court as I need to get her passport done as well
aa17 - 25-Sep-17 @ 12:23 PM
She- Your Question:
My grandson was born abroad, 4 years ago. He has a Cypriot birth certificate, his mother now wants to get a UK certificate a, without the fathers name on it. They are not married. Is she allowed to do this, also change my grandsons surname.

Our Response:
Where has he lived during life? Is the father a UK citizen? Sorry there's not really enough information for us to answer this.
LawAndParents - 20-Sep-17 @ 2:30 PM
TylersDAD - Your Question:
I have a son Tyler who is 5 nearly 6 this month.his mum had stopped me seeing him I've messaged her everyday to try and see him to which she ignored me for the start of her stopping me it's been nearly 5 months now and she recently messaged me saying she wants me to sign to have his name changed which I declined she won't let me see him and speak to him the only way she will let me have contact is if I sign to have his name changed which I do not want she is blackmailing me what can I do

Our Response:
Your child has a right to contact with his father, the mother should not prevent this or only agree to this on the basis of certain conditions being met. You should try a mediation service to draw up a contact agreement (this can be made legally enforceable by the courts subsequently if necessary). If mediation doesn't work, you can apply to the courts for a Child Arrangements order using the form C100.
LawAndParents - 20-Sep-17 @ 12:07 PM
My grandson was born abroad, 4 years ago. He has a Cypriot birth certificate,his mother now wants to get a UK certificate a, without the fathers name on it. They are not married. Is she allowed to do this,also change my grandsons surname.
She - 20-Sep-17 @ 8:18 AM
I have a son Tyler who is 5 nearly 6 this month...his mum had stopped me seeing him I've messaged her everyday to try and see him to which she ignored me for the start of her stopping me it's been nearly 5 months now and she recently messaged me saying she wants me to sign to have his name changed which I declined she won't let me see him and speak to him the only way she will let me have contact is if I sign to have his name changed which I do not want she is blackmailing me what can I do
TylersDAD - 19-Sep-17 @ 8:09 PM
Billy- Your Question:
Can you help me my daughter is wanting too change her surname can she change her mother married name as l have parent rights thought the courts thank you.

Our Response:
If you as the father have parental responsibility, your consent is required before your daughter's surname can be changed.
LawAndParents - 19-Sep-17 @ 10:30 AM
Can you help me my daughter is wanting too change her surname can she change her mother married name as l have parent rights thought the courts thank you .......
Billy - 17-Sep-17 @ 12:55 AM
Ktlou86 - Your Question:
Hi my son has a current double barrelled surname which was changed by deed poll from just his fathers on his agreements , being mine and my separated partners name. I want to re-marry and take my new partners name and change the part of my sons surname that is my maiden name to my new partners, however his father will not agree this. Can I apply to court on the basis that he already has my surname but obviously as I am changing mine I now wish him to have my new partners as a double barrelled to his fathers?

Our Response:
There is nothing preventing you from applying to courts... we can't say what their decision will be though.
LawAndParents - 15-Sep-17 @ 2:38 PM
Lisa79 - Your Question:
Hi I'm getting married to my partner and my daughters who are not his are asking can they also change their name they are 4 and 8 and they have no contact with their father who is on their birth certificates due to domestic violence, can I apply to have their names changed

Our Response:
You do not have the natural father's consent, you will have to apply for a court order in order to change the names, rather than simply makinga deed poll application.
LawAndParents - 15-Sep-17 @ 11:12 AM
Hi my son has a current double barrelled surname which was changed by deed poll from just his fathers on his agreements , being mine and my separated partners name. I want to re-marry and take my new partners name and change the part of my sons surname that is my maiden name to my new partners, however his father will not agree this. Can I apply to court on the basis that he already has my surname but obviously as I am changing mine I now wish him to have my new partners as a double barrelled to his fathers?
Ktlou86 - 14-Sep-17 @ 4:37 PM
Hi I'm getting married to my partner and my daughters who are not his are asking can they also change their name they are 4 and 8 and they have no contact with their father who is on their birth certificates due to domestic violence, can I apply to have their names changed
Lisa79 - 12-Sep-17 @ 5:47 PM
grandad - Your Question:
My grandchildern ages 10-13 years old wish to change their surname to their mothers. They haven't seen or have any form of contact with their father in over 5-6 years. There is a court order on the father who is legally not allowed physicall contact with them.he's aloud to write or send birthday cards but don't. Due to his drink and drug addiction and violent past he is now living on the streets.How can my grandchildern take their mothers surname.

Our Response:
A court order may be required to change the name officially. It should be a fairly straightforward process if the father is not allowed contact with the children anyway.
LawAndParents - 7-Sep-17 @ 12:48 PM
My grandchildern ages 10-13 years old wish to change their surname to their mothers. They haven't seen or have any form of contact with their father in over 5-6 years. There is a court order on the father who is legally not allowed physicall contact with them.he's aloud to write or send birthday cards but don't. Due to his drink and drug addiction and violent past he is now living on the streets.How can my grandchildern take their mothers surname.
grandad - 5-Sep-17 @ 9:12 PM
hello, my sons have a double barrelled surname - mine and the dad. is it too late to amend this and will it be possible to change it to just the dad's surname?
nelley - 31-Aug-17 @ 3:28 PM
My sons partner died when youngest child was 4,her Mother did not give her my sons surname as she didn't want the name to die out.My grandchild wants the same surname as her older btother as they go to the same school is this hard to do both parents were together but my son would have preferred it if it was a double barreled.
Jill - 30-Aug-17 @ 12:31 AM
Mother - Your Question:
I asked you about my granddaughters surname. Can I get made parental responsibility just in case something happen to her mam,then I could say know to change of surname as I know my son would not want it changed. If I can how do I go about it.

Our Response:
No it's not possible for a grandparent to apply for parental responsibility unless there is some sort of guardianship in place.
LawAndParents - 15-Aug-17 @ 11:23 AM
I asked you about my granddaughters surname. Can I get made parental responsibility just in case something happen to her mam,then I could say know to change of surname as I know my son would not want it changed. If I can how do I go about it.
Mother - 12-Aug-17 @ 9:20 PM
Niamh - Your Question:
My son has my last name (I am his mother)His birth father hasn't had contact since my son was a few months old, (he's now coming 6) however is on his birth cert. I am wanting to know when I marry will I be able to change my son's name to my husband's so as myself my two children and husband will all have the same surname. Thanks.

Our Response:
You need consent from the biological father if you want to change your child's name. You may have to apply to the courts if you can't gain this consent.
LawAndParents - 10-Aug-17 @ 2:29 PM
My son has my last name (I am his mother) His birth father hasn't had contact since my son was a few months old, (he's now coming 6) however is on his birth cert. I amwanting to know when I marry will I be able to change my son's name to my husband's so as myself my two children and husband will all have the same surname. Thanks.
Niamh - 10-Aug-17 @ 1:57 PM
Mother - Your Question:
My son had my granddaughter his name is on her birth certificate. My son died a year after she was born and 2 weeks before his wedding. Now girlfriend is living with someone else and has had another baby to him. If there get married can there change my granddaughters names to his as I feel vey worry about this.

Our Response:
The mother can apply to change the first child's surname, all she needs is consent from any other parties with parental responsibility. This is usually the father but as he is deceased, it may not be required (unless you have applied for parental responsibility at some point?)
LawAndParents - 8-Aug-17 @ 2:48 PM
My son had my granddaughter his name is on her birth certificate. My son died a year after she was born and 2 weeks before his wedding. Nowgirlfriend is living with someone else and has had another baby to him. If there get married can there change my granddaughters names to his as I feel vey worry about this.
Mother - 7-Aug-17 @ 9:58 PM
nosi - Your Question:
Can I change my son surname back to mine from his fathers or can he use both

Our Response:
He can use both but you can only change it back to yours if the natural father consents.
LawAndParents - 26-Jul-17 @ 12:42 PM
can I change my son surname back to mine from his fathers or can he use both
nosi - 19-Jul-17 @ 11:33 PM
My son has my maiden name I got married a year ago my son dose not see his dad or his dad not on the birth certificate. My son wants to change his name to my married name can someone please tell me if his dad can stop me
Nicola - 16-Jul-17 @ 9:41 AM
Is there any help groups for my ex partner and myself to talk to, we are finding communication very difficult as she is consistently rude which in turn makes me argumentative. Obviously this is not fair on our daughter who is nearly 2. We have a fair routine in place but it is seriously grinding us both down.
Mike - 13-Jul-17 @ 12:19 PM
Mark Naylor - Your Question:
I would like some advice on whether or not it is possible for me to get my ex arrested for illegally changing my daughters surnames

Our Response:
You can't "get her arrested" but you can take action via the courts to reverse this if the court agrees.
LawAndParents - 26-Jun-17 @ 1:47 PM
I would like some advice on whether or not it is possible for me to get my ex arrested for illegally changing my daughters surnames
Mark Naylor - 23-Jun-17 @ 5:48 PM
poshlady40 - Your Question:
Please could you help I wish to change my daughters surname either solely to mine or double barrel it so later on she can choose whether to keep both or single it. Her father left us when she was 9 months old and we divorced. She is 4 yrs old and doesn't really know her surname at present. I don't know her fathers address and the only contact we had was through the women he had the affair with. she never saw her father until she was 3 and now she hasn't seen him since late march this year. he does everything he can to pay minim payments for her including registering his partners daughter on his cma claim so he pays less as there is a 16 years old child in his place of residence. so his daughter looses out and to get at me. I didn't want a single name at birth but was forced into giving her his name instead of double barrelling. I spoke to hgis partner topass on message that I wish to change her name and the reply was instant NO with no reason, he has never had any envolvment in her life and infact only when his partner forced the issue he began to see her. He has never had any invilvemnt in thed esion making regarding hursery schooling etc and never cared when he kicked us all (myself and two children out of our home when we separated. Please could you let me know the best avenue to go down Many thanks

Our Response:
You will need to apply for a court order to have her name changed officially if the father will not give consent.
LawAndParents - 22-Jun-17 @ 11:36 AM
Please could you help I wish to change my daughters surname either solely to mine or double barrel it so later on she can choose whether to keep both or single it. Her father left us when she was 9 months old and we divorced. She is 4 yrs old and doesn't really know her surname at present. I don't know her fathers address and the only contact we had was through the women he had the affair with. she never saw her father until she was 3 and now she hasn't seen him since late march this year. he does everything he can to pay minim payments for her including registering his partners daughter on his cma claim so he pays less as there is a 16 years old child in his place of residence. so his daughter looses out and to get at me. I didn't want a single name at birth but was forced into giving her his name instead of double barrelling. I spoke to hgis partner topass on message that I wish to change her name and the reply was instant NO with no reason, he has never had any envolvment in her life and infact only when his partner forced the issue he began to see her. He has never had any invilvemnt in thed esion making regarding hursery schooling etc and never cared when he kicked us all (myself and two children out of our home when we separated. Please could you let me know the best avenue to go down Many thanks
poshlady40 - 20-Jun-17 @ 8:06 AM
My partner wasn't married to his sons mother at the time of birth and the mother registered the son with his father being present giving him the name of her 1st husband. They later got married then spilt 18 months later. I work in registration and advised my partner that his sons birth should have been 're registered which had been done and my partner is now on the birth certificate giving my partner parental responsibility however his son still has another mans last name. Please could someone advise what we need to do to give him the correct surname, my partner is not yet divorced from her as she is refusing to pay towards the divorce so as they are still married does this make any difference on the name change
Rach - 16-Jun-17 @ 6:36 AM
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