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Changing a Child's Surname

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 27 Sep 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]
Hi just asking on behalf of my daughter her son goes by her surname at school and he does not want to be is father name no more and also suffer from disability just want to help him what can we do to change it. He been with this surname since he started school he now in year 4.
Griff - 27-Sep-18 @ 9:02 PM
I have a daughter 8 years old,she is illigetamet but she bring his father surname,but the father no contact after he sign the RA 9255,.I want to remove his surname in the birth certificate of my daughter and take my surname.
Adel - 24-Sep-18 @ 4:46 AM
My daugther is nearly 4 and tells everyone her name is her mum surname not her legal name. I feel she can call herself what she wants. He spends his time correcting it.Also threateningme with court
Rjk - 13-Sep-18 @ 4:20 PM
My son is now 19. He has got it into his head that a foreign sounding name (like his mothers maiden name - Pejica) is cooler than his birth surname - my English surname. If my son changes his surname, then I am legally correct to deduce he is not my son - legally, as he has taken another mans surname, and the legal father would in fact be his grandfather on his mothers side. Is he effectively adopted ? This has very far reaching ramifications in my view. For example. If he is not my legally son, then, in the case of divorce, I am not liable for any maintenance payments etc. Please advise.
will - 17-Aug-18 @ 10:01 PM
Hi My son's are 15 and 12, they have not seen their dad since approx 2009/2010. From 2002 to 2010 the boys dad was abusive (majority of that time we were not together, he was controlling and kept coming round (how I ended up having both boys) despite his abuse I was civil because of the children)) there had also been arranged visits via solicitorsthat he failed to keep up. I moved away as a final straw in 2012. He applied for access to see the boys but was denied by court due to his abusive history. What is bugging me is their middle names that I only agreed to because I felt pressured into what he wanted, I also had no one telling me that I didn't have to have his surname on the certificate.Can I add my surname before their dad's surname rather than eliminate it (elimination part would be their decision or the boys have asked to adopt my current partner or 3 years surname) and can I change their middle names? As mentioned before boys do not have contact with their dad due to court saying no.
Purplelight - 8-Aug-18 @ 6:30 AM
Hi there, When my son was born myself and his father were amicable and wanted what was best for our son. As son as he was born he changed and hasn’t seen his son since he as a year old. My son is now nearly 3!! As we were amicable at the time my son carries his surname and he is on the birth certificate, which I wouldn’t have had any other way.As my son carries his surname and not mine am in a catch 22 here where I want him to have my surname but don’t know how to go about it. He doesn’t pay for his son and I have no idea we’re he is, not that that’s a issue. Better off without him. Can he help me understand what kind of situation I am in if possible. Many thanks
Prada - 6-Aug-18 @ 7:59 PM
The Sorceress 70 - Your Question:
When my son turns 16, he wants to change his name to that of his step father (which I know he can legally do without permission). Will his father still have to pay maintenance by law, or can he refuse?

Our Response:
A name change should not affect maintenance payments.
LawAndParents - 3-Aug-18 @ 3:19 PM
When my son turns 16, he wants to change his name to that of his step father (which I know he can legally do without permission). Will his father still have to pay maintenance by law, or can he refuse?
The Sorceress 70 - 1-Aug-18 @ 8:36 PM
Geo - Your Question:
Hi my daughter is now a year old and her father has had nothing to do with her since birth but is on birth certificate if I get consent from him to change her surname to mine, will he legally not be obliged to pay child maintenance anymore?

Our Response:
No, a name has nothing to do with maintenance payments.
LawAndParents - 1-Aug-18 @ 2:20 PM
Hi my daughter is now a year old and her father has had nothing to do with her since birth but is on birth certificate if I get consent from him to change her surname to mine, will he legally not be obliged to pay child maintenance anymore?
Geo - 31-Jul-18 @ 10:02 AM
My daughter is nearly 14 and has been through a tough time lately with low mood and an eating disorder. While times have been tough her dad decided he wouldn’t see her for 6 mnths and even though I told him it would destroy her and begged him not to leave her he did it anyway. She didn’t take it very well and it made her worse for a while and now not only does she not want to see him either but she is adamant she wants to change her name. We were married and his name is on the birth certificate. But to leave your child when they need most I can’t say I blame her and I want to try to help her heal if that’s what she wants to do
Spaceman - 26-Jul-18 @ 7:37 PM
Hi, my 8 year old daughter has a double barrelled surname, but hates it. She doesn't know her Dad as he chose not to see her when she was a few months old and has never bothered. He harassed me with abusive threatening texts for years until the police gave him a warning. She uses my surname in school, doctors etc which comes first in her hyphenated surname, but wants to get rid of her dad's surname legally as I'm looking at getting her a passport. He pays maintenance but has no contact, how do I proceed in changing her name? Thanks
Hippychick - 25-Jul-18 @ 12:05 PM
Mimi - Your Question:
I was traditionally married to my children's father. Our daughter was born whilst he was with another woman. He requested a DNA but was unprepared to pay for it himself and expected me to but I ignored his request. I registered the birth of our daughter in my surname as I was very angry with him for asking for a DNA. However, I allowed him to see our baby until a time he started verbally abusing me as whenever he rang to speak to our daughter (4 years old) , daughter refused to speak to him on the phone all the time and he became frustrated by this and abused me frequently until I decided to cut him off totally for my own sanity.He then took me to court and after a while was granted parental responsibility and contact every 2 weeks. Female judge asked that he undertake the domestic abuse course but this was overturned by a male judge who made a judgement based on the facade my ex presented that he is a good person and did not need the course. To this day I still suffer abuse from him now and again.He suggested that we change the child's name to his surname but I tried to reason with him that it should be double barrelled as our daughter has used my surname for the past 10 years of her life, he will not see reason to this. I printed off a change of surname form and he signed it but I hadn't filled in the new name. He asked me what I intend to put down and I informed him that it will be a double barrel name. He objected to this. I still have the signed form.Where do I stand legally? Secondly he does not give me any maintenance at all even though he was told by the judge that he should be looking after his child. As far as he is concerned I have a lot of money.

Our Response:
Put the name on the form...you can't expect it to be signed without it, then it should be a straightfoward process. As for maintenance...contact the CM Options website and see how you can use the CMS to ensure payments are regular. If necessary ask someone else to be present at handover times if you are subject to abuse from your the father.
LawAndParents - 25-Jul-18 @ 11:39 AM
I was traditionally married to my children's father. Our daughter was born whilst he was with another woman. He requested a DNA but was unprepared to pay for it himself and expected me to but I ignored his request. I registered the birth of our daughter in my surname as I was very angry with him for asking for a DNA. However, I allowed him to see our baby until a time he started verbally abusing me as whenever he rang to speak to our daughter (4 years old) , daughter refused to speak to him on the phone all the time and he became frustrated by this and abused me frequently until I decided to cut him off totally for my own sanity. He then took me to court and after a while was granted parental responsibility and contact every 2 weeks. Female judge asked that he undertake the domestic abuse course but this was overturned by a male judge who made a judgement based on the facade my ex presented that he is a good person and did not need the course. To this day I still suffer abuse from him now and again. He suggested that we change the child's name to his surname but I tried to reason with him that it should be double barrelled as our daughter has used my surname for the past 10 years of her life, he will not see reason to this.I printed off a change of surname form and he signed it but I hadn't filled in the new name. He asked me what I intend to put down and I informed him that it will be a double barrel name. He objected to this. I still have the signed form. Where do I stand legally? Secondly he does not give me any maintenance at all even though he was told by the judge that he should be looking after his child. As far as he is concerned I have a lot of money.
Mimi - 22-Jul-18 @ 2:35 AM
Nat - Your Question:
Hi.My daughter is 16 amd has changed her name via deed poll of her own choice. Does her father still have to pay maintenance?

Our Response:
Yes if she is still in full time education at A level standard or below, the father should continue to pay maintenance until she is 18 or 19. The name change will not have any impact on this.
LawAndParents - 5-Jul-18 @ 3:49 PM
Hi. My daughter is 16 amd has changed her name via deed poll of her own choice. Does her father still have to pay maintenance?
Nat - 4-Jul-18 @ 9:23 PM
KT - Your Question:
Hi, my daughters father had all contact stopped over two years ago. He was abusing her along with his son. My daughter is 9 now and has been “known as” my husbands surname for over a year at her own request. She is now desperate to change her name officially. Would I still need her birth fathers permission? He is on birth certificate, but I’m wondering if his parental responsibility is now void due to no contact?

Our Response:
You will still need the father's consent but if he's been absent/gaining his consent will be difficult, you should be able to get the name changed fairly easily via a court order. The court form you need is C100.
LawAndParents - 2-Jul-18 @ 12:36 PM
Con - Your Question:
We are legal guardianship grandparents until the child is 16.we have had her since birth. She lives with us and now she's 3 years old and is going into a different nursery in September close by. We have been using our surname carson for her since birth for everything apart for her passport. Now the new school said they will not allow her to be called carson it has to be Sharpe her birth surname. Our granddaughter is use to her surname carson and we told the school it will confuse her being a different surname. Can anyone help us with this.

Our Response:
For the school records she should use the name on her birth certificate but you are allowed to have a "known as" name as well. If that's not sufficient, could you change her name by deed poll? (Assuming the parents if they're still around, agree on that). That would be official and the school should accept that.
LawAndParents - 2-Jul-18 @ 12:02 PM
Hi, my daughters father had all contact stopped over two years ago. He was abusing her along with his son. My daughter is 9 now and has been “known as” my husbands surname for over a year at her own request. She is now desperate to change her name officially. Would I still need her birth fathers permission? He is on birth certificate, but I’m wondering if his parental responsibility is now void due to no contact?
KT - 29-Jun-18 @ 8:42 AM
We are legal guardianship grandparents until the child is 16..we have had her since birth. She lives with us and now she's 3 years old and is going into a different nursery in September close by. We have been using our surname carson for her since birth for everything apart for her passport. Now the new school said they will not allow her to be called carson it has to be Sharpe her birth surname. Our granddaughter is use to her surname carson and we told the school it will confuse her being a different surname. Can anyone help us with this.
Con - 28-Jun-18 @ 9:08 PM
Hi I have a question , my partner has a child in his previous relationship, and know he been ask his ex partner to give her birth certificate for the child , my question is does he have a right to get on other one at registration officewithout any sign from both parents? , by the way the birth certificate has 2 names , the baby mama last name and my partner last
Beonce - 25-Jun-18 @ 10:42 PM
Hi I have recently split up for my wife, we are still married, she has asked for my consent to double barrel my daughters surname, is this something I can object to, if I do consent do I have a say in which order the names are, ie my surname first followed by hers? I'm concerned if I do agree and in the future she re marries would the double barrel name be changed to her new married name? where as if I don't agree to the name change initially would they still keep their original surname?
Lance74 - 19-Jun-18 @ 9:47 AM
Martin- Your Question:
Since the age of 10 my mother changed my name in school to be her maiden name as shown on my birth certificate. My previous name and still my full name on my birth certificate was my fathers. My mother and father where married at the time of my birth but divorced when my mother changed my name. This was not done via deed poll and I dont believe my father approved and certainly he still doesnt. I am due to be married next month and wish to continuing using my mothers maiden name. My NI number has my maiden name along with my passport and driving license but when showing the registrar my birth certificate red flags have been shown. I think I need to have a sentence which states previously known as. My question, Is my name change in the 1st place legal ? are all my documentations NI number legal ?Thanks

Our Response:
We're not sure to be honest. It's strange that your passport has a different name to that shown on your birth certificate unless your mother officially changed your name (in which case you should have a deed poll document or court order).
LawAndParents - 15-Jun-18 @ 2:45 PM
Since the age of 10 my mother changed my name in school to be her maiden name as shown on my birth certificate. My previous name and still my full name on my birth certificate was my fathers. My mother and father where married at the time of my birth but divorced when my mother changed my name. This was not done via deed poll and i dont believe my father approved and certainly he still doesnt. I am due to be married next month and wish to continuing using my mothers maiden name. My NI number has my maiden name along with my passport and driving license but when showing the registrar my birth certificate red flags have been shown. I thinki need to have a sentence which states previously known as. My question, Is my name change in the 1st place legal ? are all my documentations NI number legal ? Thanks
Martin - 14-Jun-18 @ 4:54 PM
Wondering mum - Your Question:
Hi, I am due to get married soon and my son (he has my surname) he wants the same name as my partner. My ex's name is on the birth certificate, he has had no contact with my son for the last 6 years, my question is can I get his name changed after I'm married or will I have to get my ex's permission? Thanks.

Our Response:
Yes you still need the father's consent assuming he has parental responsibility (i.e he is on the birth certificate or you were married at the time of the birth). 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 - 11-Jun-18 @ 2:28 PM
Hi, I am due to get married soon and my son (he has my surname) he wants the same name as my partner. My ex's name is on the birth certificate, he has had no contact with my son for the last 6 years, my question is can I get his name changed after I'm married or will I have to get my ex's permission? Thanks.
Wondering mum - 8-Jun-18 @ 3:37 PM
Forsyth - Your Question:
I was born Leigh Culbert. Mum remarried when I was a child and my surname after adoption was changed to Forsyth.I now use my birth name Culbert.This is on my official documents. Bank accounts etc.I require to apply for my passport how do I do this

Our Response:
Have you changed your name by deed poll? Here's the government advice on this situation:
A passport applicant in the UK must provide evidence to show that they have changed their name and that they are using the name for all official purposes i.e. the name is part of their everyday life and there is a clear link between the former name and the new name. The applicant should provide at least one piece of evidence to show change of name and one piece of evidence demonstrating use of name:-
Change of name evidence:
? marriage certificate
? civil partnership certificate
? Gender Recognition certificate
? enrolled deed poll
? change of name deed
? unenrolled deed poll
? adoption order/certificate
? act of Parliament
? certificate of naturalisation or registration
? statutory declaration/affidavit
? birth certificate (upon re-registration)

Use of name evidence:
? tax record (such as a letter form tax authority)
? employment record (such as an official letter from employer
? educational record (such as a school report)
? letter from central, regional or local government department
? driving licence (UK or overseas)
? national ID card or equivalent
? visa or residence permit
? medical/health card
? voters card
? bank statement (UK applications only
LawAndParents - 5-Jun-18 @ 2:54 PM
I was born Leigh Culbert. Mum remarried when i was a child and my surname after adoption was changed to Forsyth. I now use my birth name Culbert. This is on my official documents. Bank accounts etc. I require to apply for my passport how do i do this
Forsyth - 4-Jun-18 @ 7:38 PM
Lola37 - Your Question:
Hi,My little girl currently has my ex’s surname and he and I have agreed to double barrel her name to reflect her now two families. However, we cannot agree on the order of names and both want our surname to be last for our daughter. He does still see her regularly although offers no financial suppprt and I am her main carer. We are both adamant. Where can we go from here please?Many thanks

Our Response:
There are no set rules for this, so if you can't agree, then maybe mediation might be the way to go?
LawAndParents - 30-May-18 @ 3:39 PM
Hi, My little girl currently has my ex’s surname and he and I have agreed to double barrel her name to reflect her now two families. However, we cannot agree on the order of names and both want our surname to be last for our daughter. He does still see her regularly although offers no financial suppprt and I am her main carer. We are both adamant. Where can we go from here please? Many thanks
Lola37 - 29-May-18 @ 9:52 PM
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