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Changing a Child's Surname

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 20 Jul 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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katy - 20-Jul-17 @ 7:15 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
La Abeija - Your Question:
My 7r old son has a double barrelled surname belonging to me and my ex husband. I am in a happy relationships and my son and new partner dote on each other. (My son doesn't have much contact with his real Dad - he last saw him 4 months ago and 4 months before that.) Me and my partner recently had a baby and consequently the new baby has a different surname to my first son. My first son is desperate to have the same surname as his "new Dad" and of the new baby. My ex is refusing What can I do?

Our Response:
You may need to apply to the courts if the natural father will not consent.
LawAndParents - 14-Jun-17 @ 12:47 PM
My 7r old son has a double barrelled surname belonging to me and my ex husband. I am in a happy relationships and my son and new partner dote on each other. (My son doesn't have much contact with his real Dad - he last saw him 4 months ago and 4 months before that.) Me and my partner recently had a baby and consequently the new baby has a different surname to my first son. My first son is desperate to have the same surname as his "new Dad" and of the new baby. My ex is refusing What can I do?
La Abeija - 11-Jun-17 @ 1:07 PM
Hi I was wanting to know if it's possible to change my birth surname. I am now 29 and married but I would like to have my step father named as father on my birth certificate as my birth father was not present in my life nor raised me. I'm unsure if this is possible but it would me a lot to both of us. Thank
amz - 8-Jun-17 @ 1:22 PM
Hi me and my ex split when our little girl was 9 months old, my question is can I double-barrel her name without his consent. I'm still keeping his surname but added mine aswell ??
Leanne - 8-Jun-17 @ 10:10 AM
Hello everyone i need to know whether i can eventually change into or add my partners surname to my baby. Im planning to use mine first and if we get married or things work out more then i will probably add my partners surname to our baby's.
c.yah - 1-Jun-17 @ 11:53 PM
I have a 6 months old son and his last name is double barrelled with mine and the fathers, the father is not envolved by his choice and I've never had a maintenance payment from him, I tried to get him Involved but he didn't want to know despite him being on the birth certificate. I want to get rid of his name and just have my name as my sons surname, I don't know where he is and have no way of contacting him, how do I go about this?
Dolly - 1-Jun-17 @ 7:46 PM
Penny - Your Question:
Hi a question my son has fathers surname and my surname as his middle name but dad has married and had children my son is desperate to have names swapped around so dads as middle name and same surname as me and his sister but dad refuses anything I can do

Our Response:
Not really if the father doesn't consent, but you could change it so it's a double barrelled name or make sure that the middle name is considered a surname. That way, the end bit could "drop off" eventually by people he deals with, if not on official documents.
LawAndParents - 22-May-17 @ 2:41 PM
Hi a question my son has fathers surname and my surname as his middle name but dad has married and had children my son is desperate to have names swapped around so dads as middle name and same surname as me and his sister but dad refuses anything I can do
Penny - 21-May-17 @ 4:03 PM
Hi I have a 10 year old daughter with my ex partner who remarried and has two children with new husband. I'm on the birth certificate and see my daughter weekly by court order. My daughter has her mothers surname on birth certificate(which I didn't agree with). She asked me weeks ago to change my daughters surname to her husbands (she has changed it at school,doctors etc years ago without my consent) and gets my child to call her new husband dad from when they met. She asked 3 weeks ago and because I haven't said yes I have a threatening solicitors letter saying I have 3 weeks to agree or it's going to costs and all costs will be seeked to be met by me. My daughter has told me she wants to change her name but also told mum she wanted my surname last year and her mum said to wait till she was older. I've told my daughter the same but have been told she will seek my daughter to speak in court telling the judge she wants step fathers name is this right ?
Deeks - 20-May-17 @ 1:15 PM
Hi , i need ur help. Just want to ask if i can still change the surname of my son ?He carry the last name of his stepdad. But now were not together . Can i change it back to my last name ? What are the process
Jeiz - 17-May-17 @ 8:54 PM
Mel - Your Question:
Hi, can I register a child at school using one half of their double barrelled surname. E.g. Given name John Smith-Doe. name used at school John Doe.

Our Response:
Only with the consent of the other parent with parental responsibility.
LawAndParents - 12-May-17 @ 9:48 AM
Hi, can I register a child at school using one half of their double barrelled surname. E.g. Given name John Smith-Doe.... name used at school John Doe.
Mel - 10-May-17 @ 3:40 PM
B - Your Question:
Hi I'm just wondering how to go about my child's name, he is currently registered as his dad's surname but me and his father are not together and I was wondering so I have to have consent from him to add my surname onto the end so it becomes double barrelled? It would be so much easier when registering him with thing as we would have the same name then Thanks

Our Response:
Yes as long as you do not remove his father's name from your child's completely, this is not an issue.
LawAndParents - 9-May-17 @ 1:59 PM
Hi I'm just wondering how to go about my child's name, he is currently registered as his dad's surname but me and his father are not together and I was wondering so I have to have consent from him to add my surname onto the end so it becomes double barrelled? It would be so much easier when registering him with thing as we would have the same name then Thanks
B - 8-May-17 @ 12:14 PM
My ex wife changed my son and daughters names without my consent even though she knew how to contact me and I was seeing the children regularly although this ceased some year or two before the name changes. My ex wife would have made some kind of declaration at the time. Has an offence been committed?
aparent - 29-Apr-17 @ 12:38 AM
Bessie- Your Question:
Hi I have a 10 year old son whom hasn't seen his dad since he was 2 he's made no attempt to contact him he actually went to jail for assaulting me and is a violent man I'm now with my new partner off 8 years whom I get married to next year my son calls him dad and nows no other I've applied for a court order but not sure if they contact his real dad I'm petrified he contests it purely to spite me he's not a nice person and don't want him in my sons life any advice would be great thank you

Our Response:
The courts will contact the natural father to ask for consent for a name change. The background may or may not affect the decision.
LawAndParents - 24-Apr-17 @ 12:44 PM
Hi I have a 10 year old son whom hasn't seen his dad since he was 2 he's made no attempt to contact him he actually went to jail for assaulting me and is a violent man I'm now with my new partner off 8 years whom I get married to next year my son calls him dad and nows no other I've applied for a court order but not sure if they contact his real dad I'm petrified he contests it purely to spite me he's not a nice person and don't want him in my sons life any advice would be great thank you
Bessie - 23-Apr-17 @ 10:10 AM
My 11 yr old daughter we have changed her name by deed pole to howarth She has always been known at school as howarth she starting high school Will her exams from the government come in howarth or in her birth surname Who do I have to contact I've done her passport Doctors dentist etc It's just her national insurance number I'm struggling knowing the right people to phone or forms to fill in
Lamb - 13-Apr-17 @ 2:26 PM
Bobbie - Your Question:
Hello, please can you help me? I have spoke with my ex about adding my surname to my son's name (so his surname is double barrelled). He never provides a clear answer. How would you advise me to proceed as he has PR? Thank you in advance.

Our Response:
As you are not removing the father's name, this should not be an issue and you should be able to make the change by deed poll quite easily.
LawAndParents - 10-Apr-17 @ 2:06 PM
Hello, please can you help me? I have spoke with my ex about adding my surname to my son's name (so his surname is double barrelled). He never provides a clear answer. How would you advise me to proceed as he has PR? Thank you in advance.
Bobbie - 7-Apr-17 @ 5:08 PM
Hi My husband was previously married and in that marriage he brought up a child who was not biologically his, they applied for a passport and didn't want the daughter to find out she wasn't really his so they went to the court and sat in front of a panel who gave them some kind of an order to sendoff with the passport application to allow the daughters surname to show as his. The daughters mom has since passed away and we are needing to do things that require birth certificate and passport evidence.It wasn't done by deed poll...,have you got any idea what kind of order would have been given??
SD - 6-Apr-17 @ 12:32 PM
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