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Can My Ex Change My Children's Names?

By: Imogen Jones LLB (hons) - Updated: 27 Nov 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.

Check out the Separated Dads Forum... It's a great resource where you can ask for advice on topics including Child Access, Maintenance, CAFCASS, Fathers Rights, Court, Behaviour or simply to have a chat with other dads.

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[Add a Comment]
Stuart - Your Question:
Hi guys, I recently found out my sons mother has changed his surname on his medical records after our divorce. I have PR and pay maint. and have him 2 days a week. I have refused any request made by her to give permission for a name change. My question is, is she allowed to do this as its a legal document (i believe), I am awRe that she can use the "known as" option in most cases but shes just changed his name out right at his doctors.ThankStuart

Our Response:
Your ex can change the name of your child unofficially i.e through her GP, school etc, so that the new name becomes your child's 'known as' name. However, she cannot change the name by Deed Poll without your consent.
SeparatedDads - 28-Nov-17 @ 12:42 PM
Hi guys, i recently found out my sons mother has changed his surname on his medical records after our divorce. I have PR and pay maint. and have him 2 days a week. I have refused any request made by her to give permission for a name change... My question is, is she allowed to do this as its a legal document (i believe), i am awRe that she can use the "known as" option in most cases but shes just changed his name out right at his doctors. Thank Stuart
Stuart - 27-Nov-17 @ 12:35 PM
Hi, i have PR, have me daughter at least two nights a week and my daughter has my surname on her birth certificate but her mother has changed her surname to match hers at school. The school did not contact me or anything, it has been like this for three years now as i thought i could not do anything about it and to be honest I was scared that if i did say anything then my ex would deny me access to my daughter. I have no idea what i can do about this without compromising my time with my daughter
dad87 - 25-Nov-17 @ 1:16 PM
My sons father is trying to have our sons name changed. He does not have parental responsibility but is on his birth certificate. My son was born in 2002 before the law changed and we were unmarried. My son has his fathers last name and he wants this removed. He has not seen our son in a year and is trying to do this to avoid child maintenance which he is not paid for two years. He says he is issuing legal papers. He has been threatening towards me and my son telling him to kill himself. He has sent threatening messages to our friends and family as well as me and my son. We have reported this to the police. He is now contacting people to obtain my address and contact details including my work. Can he sue me for not changing my sons name?
Nett - 31-Oct-17 @ 10:38 AM
Norma - Your Question:
I have no PR and my ex changed my daughters surname to her new partners and has now gone and got her a passport and had her new name registered at school. I didn't see my daughter for s couple of years but am seeing her every weekend now what can I do about her surname change

Our Response:
If you have no PR, there is little you can do to challenge the surname change as your child's mother is within her rights. Many children have different names from their fathers, but this does not change the fact that biologically your child is still your child and you are still your child's father.
SeparatedDads - 30-Oct-17 @ 10:51 AM
I have no PR and my ex changed my daughters surname to her new partners and has now gone and got her a passport and had her new name registered at school....... I didn't see my daughter for s couple of years but am seeing her every weekend now what can I do about her surname change
Norma - 29-Oct-17 @ 4:34 PM
Jen - Your Question:
Hello, my child’s father used an alias surname (found out on police records) on the child’s birth certificate. I didn’t know it wasn’t his real name. Could I go to court and get the child’s surname changed? Is that fair enough legally?

Our Response:
Yes, you would be able to apply to have your child's name changed and you would be successful if the child's fraudulently father used an another name, please see link here .
SeparatedDads - 23-Oct-17 @ 2:01 PM
Hello, my child’s father used an alias surname (found out on police records) on the child’s birth certificate.I didn’t know it wasn’t his real name.Could I go to court and get the child’s surname changed? Is that fair enough legally?
Jen - 22-Oct-17 @ 8:41 PM
Rosie96 - Your Question:
Hi guys- I have received a letter from my ex partner (my sons dad) from the solicitors saying that he will only allow the name change if I cancel CSA so he doesn't have to pay for him. He has nothing at all to do with him and he also got my son on a child protection plan for violence whilst I was pregnant- the letter he has sent says if he agrees to the name change that I am liable for all his court costs etc if I take it to court and that I "have to" cancel CSA payments and I'm not allowed to talk to people about why Dexter is on a child protection plan- surely this isn't right- can anybody advice me on what to do next?

Our Response:
All non-resident parents are by law required to financially support their children regardless. A legally qualified solicitor would not send such a letter, which in this case would be deemed as bribery. I would question the legitimacy of this letter, as it has no legal foundation or grounds and is quite possibly fraudulent.
SeparatedDads - 16-Oct-17 @ 11:30 AM
Hi guys- I have received a letter from my ex partner (my sons dad) from the solicitors saying that he will only allow the name change if I cancel CSA so he doesn't have to pay for him. He has nothing at all to do with him and he also got my son on a child protection plan for violence whilst I was pregnant- the letter he has sent says if he agrees to the name change that I am liable for all his court costs etc if I take it to court and that I "have to" cancel CSA payments and I'm not allowed to talk to people about why Dexter is on a child protection plan- surely this isn't right- can anybody advice me on what to do next?
Rosie96 - 15-Oct-17 @ 10:54 AM
Loki - Your Question:
If I agree to my ex changing my sons last name do I loose my legal rights as I am on the birth certificate

Our Response:
You will not lose your parental responsibility rights if you allow your child's mother to change his name. You are still his legal father by birth whatever name he goes under.
SeparatedDads - 26-Sep-17 @ 12:14 PM
If I agree to my ex changing my sons last name do I loose my legal rights as I am on the birth certificate
Loki - 25-Sep-17 @ 7:47 PM
Benj - Your Question:
Hello, I have recently been informed by my child's grandmother that they have changed my child's second name without my permission via deed poll. I am on the birth certificate and the child has my last name. Can I file criminal charges as this is techniqually fraud? I really don't know where to go with this! Thanks in advance!

Our Response:
You can see more via the DeedPoll link here which should answer your question.
SeparatedDads - 10-Aug-17 @ 11:57 AM
Hello, I have recently been informed by my child's grandmother that they have changed my child's second name without my permission via deed poll. I am on the birth certificate and the child has my last name. Can I file criminal charges as this is techniqually fraud? I really don't know where to go with this! Thanks in advance!
Benj - 9-Aug-17 @ 8:02 AM
Martin. - Your Question:
Hi my ex partner not only didnt tell me when my son was born but purposely registered our son and named him without my agreeing so that I have no perental resposibility to him, what steps can I take in regards to getting his name changed and me put on his birth certificate ?

Our Response:
You can apply for parental responsibility through the courts if your ex will not agree. Please see link here .
SeparatedDads - 24-Jul-17 @ 4:08 PM
Hi my ex partner not only didnt tell me when my son was born but purposely registered our son and named him without my agreeing so that i have no perental resposibility to him, what steps can i take in regards to getting his name changed and me put on his birth certificate ?
Martin. - 23-Jul-17 @ 5:30 PM
Rob - Your Question:
I have recently been to court and won parental responsibility of my 7 and 10 year old children (I wasn't on their birth certs) the mother changed their surnames by deed poll to her partners surname, the same as their new baby and changed herself and older child, this was done without informing me because I didn't have PR before, and their previous names were her maiden name, what chance have I got to change them to mine? Or even back to their original names?

Our Response:
Family uniformity is considered important. If the whole family has the same surname it is highly unlikely a court would force your ex to change your children's names again.
SeparatedDads - 18-Jul-17 @ 2:36 PM
I have recently been to court and won parental responsibility of my 7 and 10 year old children (I wasn't on their birth certs) the mother changed their surnames by deed poll to her partners surname, the same as their new baby and changed herself and older child, this was done without informing me because I didn't have PR before, and their previous names were her maiden name, what chance have I got to change them to mine? Or even back to their original names?
Rob - 18-Jul-17 @ 11:53 AM
Pagey - Your Question:
My partner has changed my kids names with my permission she never asked me to do it is this right

Our Response:
Much depends upon whether your partner has changed your children's names officially via Deed Poll or unofficially. In order to change the names by Deed Poll, she would have to have your permission if you have parental responsibility of your children. If you are not registered as the father on their birth certificates and do not have PR, then your partner can change their surnames without your permission. Also, she can change them unofficially via school and GP etc without your permission. This would mean your name would remain on official documents such as their passport etc, but they would be known through the school through a different name. If she has changed their names fraudulently without your permission (see link here ), you would have the option to request the names are changed back, or take the matter to court for the court to decide what it thinks is in your children's best interests.
SeparatedDads - 10-Jul-17 @ 10:45 AM
My partner has changed my kids names with my permission she never asked me to do it is this right
Pagey - 9-Jul-17 @ 4:40 PM
Hello there, Ive got 2 children 8 & 9. Ive read all the stories but... The story is very long and painful including the courts and was find wrong in all the cases. I'm sure my ex had changed my children surnames without my permission (we r separated). I know it's illegal but I'm sure she did it by asking her boyfriend to help her to be me and give a permission (she cheating all the time and doesn't bother to be responsible ) What are solutions? And how can I check it to be 100% sure? Regards
Si - 5-Jul-17 @ 6:34 PM
Guy - Your Question:
Hi.my son is now 16 years old.broke up with his mum when he was 2 years old.my son is confused as he has just found out his mum changed his name to here ex partners surname when he was 7 years old. I'm his real father always paid child maintenance for the last 16 years I am on his birth certificate ECT.im as confused as he is we are both upset that his name was changed to one of his mother's many exe, can you tell me was this legal? Was she allowed to change his surname to a total strangers without my permission? Thank you guy

Our Response:
Much depends upon whether the name has been changed officially i.e on his passport etc. If his name has been changed officially, then your ex would have had to request your permission, please see Deed Poll link here which should give you more information.
SeparatedDads - 26-Jun-17 @ 12:32 PM
Hi.my son is now 16 years old.broke up with his mum when he was 2 years old.my son is confused as he has just found out his mum changed his name to here ex partners surname when he was 7 years old. I'm his real father always paid child maintenance for the last 16 years I am on his birth certificate ECT.im as confused as he is we are both upset that his name was changed to one of his mother's many exe, can you tell me was this legal? Was she allowed to change his surname to a total strangers without my permission? Thank you guy
Guy - 23-Jun-17 @ 8:23 PM
ants - Your Question:
Hi, my 8 year old girl has decided she no longer wants to have me in her life she says she hates me and wants me to die, she lives with her mum and her mum supports her decision and encourages it, its killing me inside but if thats what dhe wants I will give her her wish. She also wannts to change her name to. I may aswel agree ad I have no fight left in me. I haven't seen her since November 2016, but I am still being charged astronomical amounts of money by the csa, and I earn less than 500 a month. Sometimes they take 100 pound of that. Do I by law have to continue paying?

Our Response:
Every non-resident parent has to pay child maintenance by law, regardless of whether they see their child or not. Child access and child maintenance have no bearing on each other, which means you will have to continue paying to help support your child. If you are earning between £100 -£199 per week you would be on a reduced rate, you can see how much you should be paying via the CMS calculator here . Only if you have fallen into arrears may you have to pay a larger percentage of your earnings. With regards to your child not wishing to see you, sometimes relationship building takes time. Perhaps you could join a group that will offer to support you trying to get your relationship with your daughter back on firmer ground, please see Families Need Fathers link here as talking to others in a similar position will help. Your daughter is only eight years of age, she may be saying things to you out of hurt and anger. Trying to get to the bottom of why she doesn't want to see you, should be your first course of action. This sometimes does not mean asking her directly, but talking to others that can help you look at the issue from a different perspective and perhaps take a different route.
SeparatedDads - 16-Jun-17 @ 10:21 AM
Hi, my 8 year old girl has decided she no longer wants to have me in her life she says she hates me and wants me to die, she lives with her mum and her mum supports her decision and encourages it, its killing me inside but if thats what dhe wants I will give her her wish. She also wannts to change her name to. I may aswel agree ad I have no fight left in me. I haven't seen her since November 2016, but I am still being charged astronomical amounts of money by the csa, and I earn less than 500 a month. Sometimes they take 100 pound of that. Do I by law have to continue paying?
ants - 15-Jun-17 @ 1:50 PM
Think of your children - not yourself, all she is wanting to do is add her surname, she's not wanting to take yours away, when the girls are at school they are going to forever have to explain why mummy has got a different surname to them, is that fair on them - allow them to have both your surnames......allow them to be proud of both their parents
PM - 14-Jun-17 @ 7:29 AM
Iain - Your Question:
I have two children and have separated from their mum over eight years. The children have my surname and I do have in place a court order to see them during the week, however I had a falling out and they have both stopped seeing me. I have not returned back to the courts as I can't afford the fees. I pay monthly child maintenance. A friend on mine noticed that my daughter is on Facebook with a different surname. I've not had any formal notice that she has changed her surname! How can I find out if she has changed her name? If she has changed her surname, do I still have to make maintenance payments? Do I need to inform child maintenance?Thank you

Our Response:
In answer to your questions; if you wish to see your children, you have a court order and cannot afford legal representation to have the order enforced, you can self-litigate, please see link here. You may also be able to get a reduction in court fees if you are on a low income. A solicitors' letter reminding your ex of the obligations or the order may also help re-instate access. Your ex cannot change your daughter's name officially by Deed Poll without your consent. However, she can use another name 'unofficially' if she chooses. This means your daughter's official surname 'yours' will remain on the likes of her passport etc. But your ex can use another name unofficially i.e through school etc. A change in name (even by Deed Poll) has no bearing on you being the biological father and by law having to continue to pay child maitenance towards the day-to-day upkeep of your child.
SeparatedDads - 1-Jun-17 @ 12:45 PM
I have two children and have separated from their mum over eight years. The children have my surname and I do have in place a court order to see them during the week, however I had a falling out and they have both stopped seeing me. I have not returned back to the courts as I can't afford the fees. I pay monthly child maintenance. A friend on mine noticed that my daughter is on Facebook with a different surname. I've not had any formal notice that she has changed her surname! How can I find out if she has changed her name? If she has changed her surname, do I still have to make maintenance payments? Do I need to inform child maintenance? Thank you
Iain - 31-May-17 @ 8:37 PM
Lou - Your Question:
Hi my daughter is 13 and hasnt had contact with her dad since she was 2,,do I need his permission to change her surname to my maiden name

Our Response:
If your child's dad is registered on the birth certificate and has parental responsibility, then you will have to ask his consent if you wish to change your daughter's name by Deed Poll.
SeparatedDads - 18-May-17 @ 10:35 AM
Hi my daughter is 13 and hasnt had contact with her dad since she was 2,,do i need his permission to change her surname to my maiden name
Lou - 17-May-17 @ 11:57 AM
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