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Can My Ex Change My Children's Names?

By: Imogen Jones LLB (hons) - Updated: 27 Mar 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Deed Poll Name Change Child Children

A name is central to a person’s identity. Families often have names that are passed down generations, precious markers of family connections. Fundamentally, names also help to maintain family ties over long distances and a connection to children. However, the name of your child should not become a battleground for the airing of disputes or perceived ‘ownership’ of the child. More often than not the dispute will be over the surname that the child was registered with. There are clearly defined circumstances in which a child’s name can be changed.

Can My Child's Name Be Changed?

A child’s name can be changed from the one it was initially registered on the birth certificate. There is a process that has to be followed and there are checks in place in order to ensure, so far as the court process is able, that there is consent to Change The Child’s Name.

How Can it Change?

The change will take place by Deed Poll. This is an official record of change of name. In order to make the change of name, officials need permission from both parents with parental responsibility. You have parental responsibility if you are named on the birth certificate, have a court order for parental responsibility, you married mother after the child was born, or you were married at the time of birth (see our article on Separation Rights for Fathers.)

What if I Don’t Agree?

If a change of name is not agreed, the matter can be taken to court for a judge to decide. The matter will only go before the court if permission is not given, or if a party is absent and their whereabouts are unknown. Permission to change the child’s name will only go ahead if the court considers it is in the child’s best interests. The court will consider a number of factors in making this decision, including but not limited to, any contact and commitment to the relationship between parent and child.

Can They Go Ahead Without Permission?

There are certain restricted circumstances in which they can go ahead without permission but they are very limited in scope, and the process will be by court order. These circumstances are:

  • The party is in prison for offences such as murder, or sexual offences such as rape.
  • A ‘no contact’ order has been issued.
  • The party has left home to escape from violence and/or abuse and is at risk of still being subjected to it.
  • If one party is afraid of the other and for the family and fears violence if contact is made because of past violence.

There is also the instance that a partner with parental responsibility cannot be found and you cannot obtain permission. A letter has to be written to support the application for change of name by Deed Poll outlining the reasons why consent has not been obtained. If this is not accepted, the matter will come before the court for their determination.

What If I Agree to the Change?

Then the process will be recorded as by consent and the child will become known as their new name as soon as the formalities are completed.

Remember

A child’s name is obviously important, and if you are faced with the prospect of an ex wanting to change a child’s name, it is likely to cause problems between each of the parties. However, if you disagree with the process, there is going to be the opportunity for your case to be heard. It is highly unlikely the court is not going to allow you to make representations on your side of the case. The court will decide the matter in the best interests of the child.

If you are unsure of your legal position or you are concerned that a name change is in process without your permission, seek the advice of a professional.

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[Add a Comment]
Sglover - Your Question:
I have 2 older boys wirh my x.and now 3 more with my now husband. We are all the same surname as my husband apart from the 2 older boys. They both want to be called the same surname, they are 9 and 10 and I have just had a no contact order put in place due to there dad messi g them about all there life and nkt putting there needs first.how would I go about changing there name.and no there father would not give permission.but with a no contact order would I need his permission.tia

Our Response:
Regardless of whether there is a no contact order in place, you would still need his permission to change the surnames of your sons by Deed Poll. You can change their names informally without his permission, i.e school, passport etc, but their father's name would still be on the passport or driving licence etc. If your ex refuses his consent, then you can apply to the courts. If your sons want uniformity of family name, then it is likely a judge would grant you this. You can see more via the link here.
SeparatedDads - 28-Mar-17 @ 11:07 AM
I have 2 older boys wirh my x..and now 3 more with my now husband . We are all the same surname as my husband apart from the 2 older boys. They both want to be called the same surname, they are 9 and 10 and i have just had a no contact order put in place due to there dad messi g them about all there life and nkt putting there needs first..how would i go about changing there name ..and no there father would not give permission..but with a no contact order would i need his permission .tia
Sglover - 27-Mar-17 @ 1:28 PM
Jennie - Your Question:
Hi I have 3 children but my eldest has his fathers surname me and his father still talk if needed and my son still sees his father when he wants to but he's 12 and has a teenage life so often just forgets he's got to see him but put this aside his father is on the birth certificate. I have 2 other children born in my new relationship both named after my new partner and we are also married we have been together for 11 years so it's not a fling or rebound. Anyway my question is could I possibly have our new family name in my sons name I don't want to take away the fact he's his fathers son but he often feels left out as he's the only one of 12 grandkids on my husbands side who has a different name he has 2 sisters with our family name and there's only him with the different name please could I have some information about how I would do this where do I go and if it's at all possible thankyou very much

Our Response:
Your only option is to ask your ex for his consent and if he refuses take the matter to court via a Specific Issue Order, please see link here. The court will make a decision about what it thinks is in your son's best interests, and it will place importance on the fact your son wishes to have uniformity in the family unit when making its decision. This means if the matter went to court, in all likelihood the court would allow the change. However, it is always easier to try to gain the consent of your ex in such matters, as it makes the process much more straightforward. Therefore, if your ex agrees to the change, you can access more information via the link here. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 21-Mar-17 @ 10:11 AM
Hi I have 3 children but my eldest has his fathers surname me and his father still talk if needed and my son still sees his father when he wants to but he's 12 and has a teenage life so often just forgets he's got to see him but put this aside his father is on the birth certificate . I have 2 other children born in my new relationship both named after my new partner and we are also married we have been together for 11 years so it's not a fling or rebound . Anyway my question is could I possibly have our new family name in my sons name I don't want to take away the fact he's his fathers son but he often feels left out as he's the only one of 12 grandkids on my husbands side who has a different name he has 2 sisters with our family name and there's only him with the different name please could I have some information about how I would do this where do I go and if it's at all possible thankyou very much
Jennie - 20-Mar-17 @ 6:57 AM
Hi, my husband has a parental responsibility for he's 2 daughters. He also has a child arrangement order in place that also states the children can not be known by any other name. On the 13th January he's ex decided to remove the children and go to a women's refuge (under false claims) we've taken it back to court but while doing this she has changed her own name by deed poll and is trying to change he's daughters names too. We believe she probably hasn't said there is a court order in place etc. Where does my husband stand etc?
Toni - 18-Mar-17 @ 10:52 PM
Joshward1991 - Your Question:
Hi,My ex has stopped me from seeing my son since she has a new boyfriend. So im going to take legal route as shes not able to be nature about it. Hes 6 months old and I haven't seen him for a month now. But shes changed his surname from mine to hers. Im on the birth certificate and was wondering how she managed to do this without me even knowing. as far as I knew I thought I would have had to give me concent and if I didnt it (which I wouldnt have) would go to court.Im not sure what right she has to do so such a thing.

Our Response:
Your ex may have chosen to change your child's name informally, i.e through school/GP etc. You would have to check your child's birth certificate to see whether his name has been changed officially. However, I imagine this is not the case as your ex would have needed written authorisation from you.
SeparatedDads - 14-Mar-17 @ 12:35 PM
Hi, My ex has stopped me from seeing my son since she has a new boyfriend. So im going to take legal route as shes not able to be nature about it. Hes 6 months old and I haven't seen him for a month now. But shes changed his surname from mine to hers. Im on the birth certificate and was wondering how she managed to do this without me even knowing. as far as I knew I thought I would have had to give me concent and if I didnt it (which i wouldnt have) would go to court. Im not sure what right she has to do so such a thing.
Joshward1991 - 13-Mar-17 @ 7:13 PM
nik - Your Question:
I have been trying to get divorced for nearly 3 years now. my ex and I have a 5 year old trouble is he jumps in and out of my sons life when he feels like it. he plans to take him out and he never shows then he dodges him for months on end after that cant get a hold of him. I really am at my wits end with this situation. I want to get a divorce but I cant get a hold of my ex. I started my divorce process over 2 years ago but he doesnt answer back to any letters from my lawyer. what can I do if there is a child involved but the father is absent ( I say he can see my boy but he doesnt want to) please help

Our Response:
A court can grant you a divorce if you can show you have taken all reasonable steps to try to pursue a divorce, but for whatever reason you are unable to serve the divorce papers. You can also serve the papers via a close relative of his, or to his workplace if you know where he works. If your ex has ignored the order, you can apply to the court for an 'order that the petition be deemed to have been served’. You would have to make a statement explaining why you think a judge should make this order. However, your solicitor should have been able/ be able to advise you regarding this. With regards to your ex seeing his son, a court cannot/will not force this issue, in other words force your ex to see his son. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 10-Mar-17 @ 12:35 PM
i have been trying to get divorced for nearly 3 years now. my ex and i have a 5 year old trouble is he jumps in and out of my sons life when he feels like it. he plans to take him out and he never shows then he dodges him for months on end after that cant get a hold of him. i really am at my wits end with this situation. i want to get a divorce but i cant get a hold of my ex. i started my divorce process over 2 years ago but he doesnt answer back to any letters from my lawyer. what can i do ifthere is a child involved but the father is absent ( i say he can see my boy but he doesnt want to) please help
nik - 9-Mar-17 @ 1:47 PM
My daughter is the result of sperm donation IVF. My now ex-partner is being very difficult and is threatening to remove my name from the birth certificate. There has never been any domestic violence or any reported abuse... I have beenjoyed subject to tirades of abuse from time to time but would never report her as it would affect our daughter. Can she do this or is it just more emotional blackmail?
JPDD - 3-Mar-17 @ 7:42 AM
Papa - Your Question:
I have not seen my daughter for over 3 years. Simply because I had way to much drama with the ex and decided that it was better for both our kids not to hve to go through that hell. I've tried to contact her through social media to avoid a fight face to face but was ignored and blocked same for my fince. She is very hostel and so is her family so for me to show up at their front step was not an option. Recently my 4 yr old has been begging to meet her sister so I decided maybe now that she has more kids she might of matured so I tried looking online for my child at the school district website I had no leads. So I looked up the mom and find out she got married and had filed for adoption. I'm sure she changed my kids name and that's why I could not find her.is there a possibility she forged my signature on paper work she has used my identity to open a time Warner account because I left paperwork with ssn and ID so I made it easy for her but found out once I tried getting the service at my home

Our Response:
You don't say whether you are registered on the birth certificate and/or have Parental Responsibility.If you are on the birth certificate your ex would have to ask your consent. - please see Family Lives link here. If you are not registered on the birth certificate, then your ex can apply for her partner to adopt your child without consent. However, this is only applicable to the UK. If you are from US, in addition adoption can be applied for if the other parent is considered to have abandoned the child. Regarding the name change, if you are living in the UK and if you have PR then your ex can change the name of your child officially only with consent. However, she can change your child's name 'unofficially' without consent at school, GP, etc - but this would mean your name would remain on her birth certificate.
SeparatedDads - 21-Feb-17 @ 10:41 AM
I have not seen my daughter for over 3 years. Simply because I had way to much drama with the ex and decided that it was better for both our kids not to hve to go through that hell. I've tried to contact her through social media to avoid a fight face to face but was ignored and blocked same for my fince. She is very hostel and so is her family so for me to show up at their front step was not an option. Recently my 4 yr old has been begging to meet her sister so I decided maybe now that she has more kids she might of matured so I tried looking online for my child at the school district website I had no leads. So I looked up the mom and find out she got married and had filed for adoption. I'm sure she changed my kids name and that's why I could not find her .is there a possibility she forged my signature on paper work she has used my identity to open a time Warner account because I left paperwork with ssn and ID so I made it easy for her but found out once I tried getting the service at my home
Papa - 20-Feb-17 @ 7:25 AM
lw - Your Question:
Hi everyoneMy partner has two children to his ex partner he is on the birth certificate but the children are In his ex's name. The two were never married. However, she is getting married to her new partner and wants to change the children's name to his. We were wondering if this would mean that my partner loses rights and the mother's soon to be husband would gain rigjts.

Our Response:
No, your partner would still retain parental responsibility over his children. The name of his children may change, but his status as the father and his rights and responsibilities wlll remain.
SeparatedDads - 10-Feb-17 @ 9:58 AM
Hi everyone My partner has two children to his ex partner he is on the birth certificate but the children are In his ex's name. The two were never married. However, she is getting married to her new partner and wants to change the children's name to his. We were wondering if this would mean that my partner loses rights and the mother's soon to be husband would gain rigjts .
lw - 9-Feb-17 @ 2:11 AM
Hodgey - Your Question:
Hi I wonder if you can help. My ex partner (never married) asked me if she could change our now 10 year old daughters surname to her new married name as my daughter wants to have the same name as her mum and new baby sister. I refused but now my daughter is also asking me to approve this as she wants her mums name. I'm not happy to do this but will my ex be able to change it at school etc without my permission and if so can I request it be changed back? We are in Scotland.Thanks.

Our Response:
I suppose the big question is 'what's in a name'? Your daughter is still your daughter whatever name she goes under. If your ex wishes to change your daughter's name by Deed Poll and you disagreed, then she would have to take the matter through court. The court will make a decision based upon what it thinks is in your daughter's best interests. Having a uniform family name is considered of importance, if your ex and your daughter both want this. Therefore, it is likely the court will agree. Likewise, if your ex wanted to change your daughter's name informally via school, GP etc, then she can do this without your permission. Therefore, you can either decide to agree to the name change knowing that it still will not affect your relationship with your daughter or your parental responsibility and possibly in the future she might even wish to change it back, or will get married and take her husband's name. Or, you can fight it - it all depends upon which stance you wish to take.
SeparatedDads - 25-Jan-17 @ 10:59 AM
Hi I wonder if you can help. My ex partner (never married) asked me if she could change our now 10 year old daughters surname to her new married name as my daughter wants to have the same name as her mum and new baby sister. I refused but now my daughter is also asking me to approve this as she wants her mums name. I'm not happy to do this but will my ex be able to change it at school etc without my permission and if so can I request it be changed back? We are in Scotland.Thanks.
Hodgey - 24-Jan-17 @ 12:58 PM
50 dad - Your Question:
My wife was artificial inseminated and our child is now 1 years old. I am 50 and really did not want more children after my first wife. We have only been married less than 3 years. So I told her I would do this with her. Well she left with the kid 6 months ago and now wants to change his name to hers. And wants a Devore and that's fine I think she just wants to do this on her own. She's a good mom and I wish them the best. She makes much more money than I and we both agreed child support would not be an issue if we ever split. If she does all this will I still be served child support? What if we both agree to no child support? Thanks

Our Response:
Unless your ex applies for child maintenance, then you will not have to pay. However, regardless of whether she changes your child's name to hers or whether you wanted your child or not, if she chooses to apply you will be made responsible for supporting your child by law.
SeparatedDads - 13-Jan-17 @ 2:27 PM
My wife was artificial inseminated and our child is now 1 years old.I am 50 and really did not want more children after my first wife. We have only been married less than 3 years. So I told her I would do this with her. Well she left with the kid 6 months ago and now wants to change his name to hers. And wants a Devore and that's fine I think she just wants to do this on her own. She's a good mom and I wish them the best. She makes much more money than I and we both agreed child support would not be an issue if we ever split. If she does all this will I still be served child support? What if we both agree to no child support? Thanks
50 dad - 12-Jan-17 @ 10:36 PM
@kuch - no she would still need your consent if you are registered on the brith certiricate MF
MarkF78 - 1-Dec-16 @ 2:33 PM
can a court of law grant my x change of my daughter's surname without my or my family consent while am in jaik
kuch - 1-Dec-16 @ 1:11 AM
My x changed my daughter's surname while am in jail,what can i do to get my name back on my daughter's birthcertificate pls
kuch - 20-Nov-16 @ 12:58 AM
Hughes - Your Question:
I have just found out my ex has changed my daughters names to her husbands is this possible with out my consent

Our Response:
As the comment below; much depends on whether your ex has changed the surname officially by Deed Poll or not. If she has changed the name by Deed Poll without your permission, then you would need to seek legal advice if you wish to pursue the matter. If she has changed the name unofficially, through school, GP etc, then there isn't much you can really do, as their 'official' name i.e your surname will remain the same on your daughter's passport etc.
SeparatedDads - 7-Nov-16 @ 2:12 PM
Pj - Your Question:
Who do I contact in relation to my ex partner changing my kids surname

Our Response:
Much depends on whether your ex has changed the surname officially by Deed Poll or not. If she has changed the name by Deed Poll without your permission, then you would need to seek legal advice if you wish to pursue the matter. If she has changed their name unofficially, through school, GP etc, then there isn't much you can really do, as their 'official' name i.e your surname will remain the same on their passport etc.
SeparatedDads - 7-Nov-16 @ 10:38 AM
Who do I contact in relation to my ex partner changing my kids surname
Pj - 6-Nov-16 @ 9:11 AM
I have just found out my ex has changed my daughters names to her husbands is this possible with out my consent
Hughes - 5-Nov-16 @ 1:21 PM
Hi my story is very weird but I believe is true. We are unmarried couple relationship end up. My daughter is 3 years old. Before her birth we did live with another couple a sister of my ex and her partner. I have found so many situations where this guy been to sensitive to my daughter visiting so often our home. He left sister and start beeing with other woman. Still become so often visiting. Few times I found him obviously stating to me what is best to my daughter.i did law on him who da You are. Finally his recent partner left him my ex invite him to ours home for short stay. I found interesting chats says and concerns. Being saying to my daughter thst he is her true father. With my ex we live still together not for long I cant look on that promiscous person. I dont know how should I get on with it. On my own I would not be able to care about my daughter. Any ideas on what concerns I can begin any case.
Sas - 17-Oct-16 @ 11:46 PM
Jimbob - Your Question:
For ten years I never seen my daughter. I payed csa.found out her surname had been changed to my x surname. Even got a passport in my x surname. I have parental rights and was never told. Can she do this.got to meet my daughter this year who has moved in with her aunty. My daughter who 16 in February 2017 do I have to pay the aunty csa. She has not got parental permission

Our Response:
Yes, you would still be eligible to pay CSA to the aunty your daughter is living with. However, likewise so would your ex. Therefore, you may wish to speak to the CSA/CMS regarding this. Your ex would not be legally able to change your daughter's surname without your consent unless you were not contactable for a period of time.
SeparatedDads - 13-Oct-16 @ 1:53 PM
For ten years I never seen my daughter. I payed csa.found out her surname had been changed to my x surname. Even got a passport in my x surname. I have parental rights and was never told. Can she do this.got to meet my daughter this year who has moved in with her aunty. My daughter who 16 in February 2017 do I have to pay the aunty csa. She has not got parental permission
Jimbob - 12-Oct-16 @ 11:21 PM
James - Your Question:
Hi folks, my ex wife wants to change how my son first name is spelt to a shorter verison. It was a long irish name and now wants to change it to the smaller irish name. This will still be the same name but I do not want the name to change after 4 years of having the same name already.I know she cannot legally change this without courts being involved but my son has now started Primary 1 and she has changed his name their so he is known as the shorter spelling name. Is this allowed or am I able to contact the school and get them to go by the correct name? Thanks

Our Response:
Your ex is allowed to change your child's name informally out of court and she can ask the school. GP etc for your son to be known as his new name. If she wishes to change it officially on his birth certificate or passport, then she would have to request your consent or take the matter to court.
SeparatedDads - 14-Sep-16 @ 10:03 AM
Hi folks, my ex wife wants to change how my son first name is spelt to a shorter verison. It was a long irish name and now wants to change it to the smaller irish name. This will still be the same name but I do not want the name to change after 4 years of having the same name already. I know she cannot legally change this without courts being involved but my son has now started Primary 1 and she has changed his name their so he is known as the shorter spelling name. Is this allowed or am I able to contact the school and get them to go by the correct name? Thanks
James - 13-Sep-16 @ 10:42 AM
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