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Can My Ex Change My Children's Names?

By: Imogen Jones LLB (hons) - Updated: 23 Jun 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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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
Cj - Your Question:
I have a daughter from a relationship 8 years ago, we split up just after her 1st birthday, he was an alcoholic and became violent towards me even threatening to have my throat cut when my little one was a mere month old, he's never helped with her upbringing or made any effort to see her, I'm now in a secure relationship and getting married this year, my daughter calls him daddy even though she knows she has a biological father, she has expressed that when we get married she wants to have the same name as us, I'm too scared to contact her real father for fear of him finding me, the police were informed when he made threats and hurt me, what rights do I have to let my little girl change her name?

Our Response:
You can see more via the Deed Poll link here, which should answer your question.
SeparatedDads - 10-May-17 @ 10:21 AM
I have a daughter from a relationship 8 years ago, we split up just after her 1st birthday, he was an alcoholic and became violent towards me even threatening to have my throat cut when my little one was a mere month old, he's never helped with her upbringing or made any effort to see her, I'm now in a secure relationship and getting married this year, my daughter calls him daddy even though she knows she has a biological father, she has expressed that when we get married she wants to have the same name as us, I'm too scared to contact her real father for fear of him finding me, the police were informed when he made threats and hurt me, what rights do I have to let my little girl change her name?
Cj - 9-May-17 @ 2:28 PM
Clarkeyyyyyy - Your Question:
Hi my daughter has changed her last name which was her mum's name to her stepfathers name should I still b paying CSA, to me he is classed as her father now not me ,thanks.

Our Response:
Yes, you are still classed by law as being responsible for paying child maintenance. Biologically your daughter is still your daughter, regardless of whether she has changed her name. Therefore, this does not change your parental responsibility rights or financial responsibilities.
SeparatedDads - 9-May-17 @ 11:35 AM
Hi my daughter has changed her last name which was her mum's name to her stepfathers name should I still b paying CSA, to me he is classed as her father now not me ,thanks .
Clarkeyyyyyy - 8-May-17 @ 11:22 AM
R - Your Question:
My ex and I were never married and my little girls aged 3 live with her but I see then 4 days a week and obviously pay financial support as well as active in their lives.because we were not married my ex wants to change the surname to a double barreled surname which incorporates here surname too which I do not want.If she takes action to do this is she likely to be succesful in this?any help is appreciated?

Our Response:
Your ex could unofficially change their names without your authority i.e through school, GP etc. In this case the name on their birth certificate and passports would remain the same. Your ex could also apply to court to have the names changed by Deed Poll. If she was still using your name and merely wished to add her name, then it is highly likely the court would allow this. Therefore, it may be easier to say yes, as it's not as though she is trying to eliminate your connection to your children. It seems for ease and uniformity, she just wishes to add her own.
SeparatedDads - 28-Apr-17 @ 2:25 PM
My ex and I were never married and my little girls aged 3 live with her but i see then 4 days a week and obviously pay financial support as well as active in their lives. because we were not married my ex wants to change the surname to a double barreled surname which incorporates here surname too which i do not want . If she takes action to do this is she likely to be succesful in this? any help is appreciated?
R - 28-Apr-17 @ 8:29 AM
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
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