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Changing a Child's Surname

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 22 Jul 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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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
Hi, I have been separated (never married) from my eight year old son's father for just over eight years, he was in his life for the first two years, but due to social services he had a choice between every weekend or through a contact centre, he choose no contact at all, 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, my question is can I get his name changed after I'm married or will I have to get my ex's permission? Thanks.
V - 23-May-18 @ 4:56 PM
Jinty - Your Question:
My sons ex has told his daughters private school to call her by her mothers surname obliterating her registered surname. He has never consented to this and has parental responsibility.is this legal ?

Our Response:
Tell your son to get in touch with the school. Schools have to use a child's birth name/legal name on their records. Sometimes a school will agree to use a preferred name but where a father is still involved in a child's life they will often do so only with circumspection.
LawAndParents - 15-May-18 @ 2:40 PM
worried mum - Your Question:
Hi, My 11 yr old son wants to double barrell is surname to include his stepfathers name, he has already asked the doctors' surgery todo and his school, which they have done. he says he doesnt want to deny the existance of his birth father but want to acknowledge the fact that he has been brought up since the age of three by my now husband. Also because he was part of our wedding and the vows in 2014. My son has had no contact from his birth father since 2010. I applied for a divorce from his birth father in 2009, on the grounds of domestic abuse, He chose to go no fixed abode, leaving me with all his business debts, because the banks/ lease hire companies couldnt find him, which I am still paying off to this day. It took me a little over 3 years to officially get divorced from him as the courts had to rule in his abscence, and so there were no child arrangements or maintenance orders, because I have long to health issues with an illness abreviated to M.E I have left it at that as I really dont need the extra stress. Nor can I afford any extra court fees, My current husband is my registered carer and works as a 0 hrs lecturer in photography. My question is, my son should really be getting a bank account and a passport renewal, how do I support my son in his wish to use his double barrelled name, I really dont want to go through the stress of having to try and hunt down our abuser, and risk bringing that person back into our lives. Is this possible and where do I find help thats not going to add to my financial pressure. Thanks

Our Response:
You should be able to change your son's name to a double-barrelled name by deed poll as long as the biological father's name is not removed entirely.
LawAndParents - 14-May-18 @ 2:14 PM
Hi, My 11 yr old son wants to double barrell is surname to include his stepfathers name, he has already asked the doctors' surgery todo and his school, which they have done. he says he doesnt want to deny the existance of his birth father but want to acknowledge the fact that he has been brought up since the age of three by my now husband. Also because he was part of our wedding and the vows in 2014. My son has had no contact from his birth father since 2010. I applied for a divorce from his birth father in 2009, on the grounds of domestic abuse, He chose to go no fixed abode, leaving me with all his business debts, because the banks/ lease hire companies couldnt find him, which i am still paying off to this day. It took me a little over 3 years to officially get divorced from him as the courts had to rule in his abscence, and so there were no child arrangements or maintenance orders, because i have long to health issues with an illness abreviated to M.E i have left it at that as i really dont need the extra stress. Nor can i afford any extra court fees, My current husband is my registered carer and works as a 0 hrs lecturer in photography.My question is, my son should really be getting a bank account and a passport renewal, how do i support my son in his wish to use his double barrelled name, i really dont want to go through the stress of having to try and hunt down our abuser, and risk bringing that person back into our lives. Is this possible and where do i find help thats not going to add to my financial pressure.Thanks
worried mum - 14-May-18 @ 11:17 AM
My sons ex has told his daughters private school to call her by her mothers surname obliterating her registered surname. He has never consented to this and has parental responsibility.is this legal ?
Jinty - 11-May-18 @ 8:28 PM
Sar - Your Question:
I have a court order saying that my ex can't see my daughter and hasn't seen her in 6 years. She wants to change her name to my maiden name as do I can anyone advice on how to go about it and if I am allowed to

Our Response:
If you apply to the Deed Poll office/for a court order, they will probably accept your existing court order as reason to change the name without the father's consent.
LawAndParents - 8-May-18 @ 3:35 PM
I have a court order saying that my ex can't see my daughter and hasn't seen her in 6 years. She wants to change her name to my maiden name as do I can anyone advice on how to go about it and if I am allowed to
Sar - 6-May-18 @ 10:46 PM
Nen - Your Question:
When our daughter was born we double barrelled her surname between mine and her dad's surname as marriage wasn't something we had planned. However we are now getting married and I want to take his surname. Other than changing my daughter's surname via deedpoll can we get her birth certificate changed aswell? We're both on the certificate. Thanks

Our Response:
You can apply to re-register the birth as you, the natural parents have married at a later date. Here is the form you need to complete
LawAndParents - 30-Apr-18 @ 3:08 PM
When our daughter was born we double barrelled her surname between mine and her dad's surname as marriage wasn't something we had planned. However we are now getting married and I want to take his surname. Other than changing my daughter's surname via deedpoll can we get her birth certificate changed aswell? We're both on the certificate. Thanks
Nen - 28-Apr-18 @ 7:39 PM
SL - Your Question:
Hi My son has my surname, he has just turned 6, my ex whom I have been split with for 4 years has decided she would like to double-barrel my childs surname. I don't want this for multiple reasons but nothing has been discussed with me, I intend to refuse as don't see why it would be in my sons interest, what happens if she marries, we were never married, why was it ok then and not now? Surely its a childs decision when they come of age? A name change is permanent and shouldn't be taken likely? Is it true mediation is required before she can process her request with court? I see my son regularly and would love to have him more, but she wont allow it. I have him every other weekend and every Wednesday. any advice welcome?

Our Response:
The mother can informally double barrel the name but in order to change the name officially on documents like passports etc, she would need your consent. If you did not want to consent, she would have to apply for a court order (and the jusge would consider your objection).
LawAndParents - 24-Apr-18 @ 2:19 PM
Hi. I’m looking for a little advice before making an appointment with a solicitor.. My child is in my sole care - Dad is not allowed contact after many failed court attempts, he is not allowed to send cards/letters or make phone calls. Paternal GF has recently been named and shamed in newspapers and convicted with making and possessing indecent child images - for the sole safety of my child would I be able to change her surname? Any advice would be great, thank you.
Options1 - 23-Apr-18 @ 11:54 PM
Hi My son has my surname, he has just turned 6, my ex whom I have been split with for 4 years has decided she would like to double-barrel my childs surname. I don't want this for multiple reasons but nothing has been discussed with me, I intend to refuse as don't see why it would be in my sons interest, what happens if she marries, we were never married, why was it ok then and not now? Surely its a childs decision when they come of age? A name change is permanent and shouldn't be taken likely? Is it true mediation is required before she can process her request with court? I see my son regularly and would love to have him more, but she wont allow it. I have him every other weekend and every Wednesday. any advice welcome?
SL - 23-Apr-18 @ 9:29 AM
Foysal - Your Question:
Hi - We (my wife and I) applied through an online company to change our son's first name via Deed Poll. We duly received the deed poll document showing change of name, including instructions on getting someone to witness and sign the document, which also includes both of our signatures. GOV.UK - guidance provides details of having to notify the change of name to the 'The Gazette', The Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London. However, we've been advised by the online company that this isn't necessary, so long as both parents consent to changing the name, and that the deed poll document is sufficient for any establishment to accept our son's change of name (primarily his school).Can you please clarify whether or not it is necessary to send notification to The Gazette, of our son's change of name to make it legally acceptable? Thank you.

Our Response:
The general process include notification in the Gazette. You can download the forms from the government website, the fee is £36. Here's the advice and the link
LawAndParents - 23-Mar-18 @ 10:47 AM
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