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Can My Ex Change My Children's Names?

By: Imogen Jones LLB (hons) - Updated: 24 Sep 2018 | 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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My brothers kids live with there mum she stopped all contact with my brother moved so he couldn't see the kids he has always payed csa for them and is on the birth certificate of both child we have now found the children but there names changed by deed poll with out his concent how can this be done if he pays for his children and can't see them due to there mother , no violent involved just a marriage breakdown x
Becks - 24-Sep-18 @ 12:23 PM
Hi, my husbands ex wife want to change their children’s name again (it’s double barrelled). She wants to change it to her and her husbands surname by Deed Poll,she has said that the children want this. They are 16 & 14.If this happens, does my husband still have to pay child maintenance?
Kaijay - 24-Sep-18 @ 11:38 AM
ConfusedDad- Your Question:
So I have been through hell and back with my ex that decided to cheat on me just before she got pregnant, I have been paying full maintenance for a while now as they have assumed parenthood on me, I have recently undergone a dna test which has come up positive but I have found out that my ex has changed my daughters surname to the name of her new husband. The only way they can do this is either deed poll or adoption. I was never told about the surname change at all and I do not have any PR due to the system taking so long in giving me a dna test etc. I now have to go through the courts before I actually get PR. is she allowed to change the name of my daughter without my consent whilst I am currently in the midst of gaining PR?

Our Response:
Unfortunately, your ex is allowed to change the name of your child without consent if you are not registered on the birth certificate. Even if you had PR and you refused, then your ex would have the option to apply to court. If your ex could justify her reasons for the name change (such as family uniformity), then it is likely the court would allow this.
SeparatedDads - 27-Jul-18 @ 3:13 PM
So I have been through hell and back with my ex that decided to cheat on me just before she got pregnant, I have been paying full maintenance for a while now as they have assumed parenthood on me, I have recently undergone a dna test which has come up positive but I have found out that my ex has changed my daughters surname to the name of her new husband. The only way they can do this is either deed poll or adoption. I was never told about the surname change at all and I do not have any PR due to the system taking so long in giving me a dna test etc. I now have to go through the courts before I actually get PR. is she allowed to change the name of my daughter without my consent whilst I am currently in the midst of gaining PR?
ConfusedDad - 24-Jul-18 @ 10:10 PM
Hi My Husbands ex moved to other side of the country with his children. She wouldn't send address and blocked hers and child's number so couldn't contact them and same with Facebook. They are using her partners surname now not his. He believes she has changed them by deed poll but how can he check if we don't know there whereabouts and we can't afford private investigators or court as the amount of csa money and out bills we just don't have spare money. He is deeply upset that she took them away and now heartbroken they have changed surname from his to their mums new boyfriend. He says if they don't have his name why should he pay csa for them as he feels they have taken the other man's name as if they are his now.
parentsunaware - 22-Jun-18 @ 4:32 PM
Wonder - Your Question:
My fiance owes child supprt n we pay it. One child is over 18 n one is about to be 18 when do we stop paying. Plus they live in a different state then we do and his cjildren use there stepfathers last name but he did not adopt them.

Our Response:
The laws in the US are different from English ones, therefore we couldn't advise.
SeparatedDads - 21-Jun-18 @ 3:21 PM
Squeeze- Your Question:
I have a sneaky suspicion my x will change my surname on my daughter.is it possible without my consent mind you it’s been 9 years and we have no contract your advise?

Our Response:
The link here should answer your question in full, if the article has not.
SeparatedDads - 21-Jun-18 @ 11:52 AM
My fiance owes child supprt n we pay it. One child is over 18 n one is about to be 18 when do we stop paying. Plus they live in a different state then we do and his cjildren use there stepfathers last name but he did not adopt them.
Wonder - 20-Jun-18 @ 7:38 PM
I have a sneaky suspicion my x will change my surname on my daughter .is it possible without my consent mind you it’s been 9 years and we have no contract your advise?
Squeeze - 20-Jun-18 @ 12:45 AM
My ex has a british visa we hav a child who was born in Britain. I live in zimbabwe and my ex does not respond to any communication regarding the child. Wen she comes to zimbabwe she does not inform me . Im suspecting she intends to change the last name of the child . How best can i handle this situation? How can my consent be considered before they travel outside uk?
Trigga - 19-Jun-18 @ 7:38 PM
Kittykat01 - Your Question:
Hiya,What (if anything) can we do regarding my step daughters name being unofficially changed in school by her mother? Husband has a contact order in place which states her name isn’t to be officially changed at the top. Can we contact the school regarding this matter or not and is there a way of resolving it. The child thinks her name is the one she goes by at school.Thanks

Our Response:
If the contact order states the name isn't to be changed, a letter with a copy of the order sent to the school and your husband's ex should be suffice. If neither responds, then a solicitor's letter reminding your husband's ex of the terms of the order may do. If this is ignored, your husband would have to refer the matter back to court. If your husband keeps copies, it would also show the court that he has done all he can to try to resolve this matter outside of court. The argument that might arise is that your husband's ex hasn't 'officially' changed the child's name. However, once his ex unofficially changes the child's name is gives weight to her reasoning for officially changing the name in the future (through the courts) by saying that the child has been known unofficially by the name for a period of time.
SeparatedDads - 19-Jun-18 @ 9:21 AM
Hiya, What (if anything) can we do regarding my step daughters name being unofficially changed in school by her mother? Husband has a contact order in place which states her name isn’t to be officially changed at the top. Can we contact the school regarding this matter or not and is there a way of resolving it. The child thinks her name is the one she goes by at school. Thanks
Kittykat01 - 18-Jun-18 @ 1:35 PM
My partner thinks that his ex may have changed their sons surname without his consent. Is there anyway he can check whether this is the case? Thanks
Baffled - 16-Jun-18 @ 11:43 AM
Shell- Your Question:
My partner has children from a previous relationship and is on all of his children's birth certificates. We got married a few months back and his surname is now double barrelled making it different than what was put on his children's birth certificates. Will it affect his PR? Does he have to change his name on their birth certificates? As I am worried because him and the mother of his children don't see eye to eye this will have a negative impact.

Our Response:
The fact your husband has changed his name will have no bearing on his parental responsibility. His PR will stay the same.
SeparatedDads - 31-May-18 @ 12:09 PM
My partner has children from a previous relationship and is on all of his children's birth certificates. We got married a few months back and his surname is now double barrelled making it different than what was put on his children's birth certificates. Will it affect his PR? Does he have to change his name on their birth certificates? As I am worried because him and the mother of his children don't see eye to eye this will have a negative impact.
Shell - 30-May-18 @ 12:57 AM
Tony- Your Question:
Hi my ex has had my sons surnsmr changed to hers at school. Is this allowed even know he’s under my name on birth certificate and I have accessed to him through court order at weekend ?

Our Response:
If the school allows it, then yes it is allowed. Your only recourse would be to write to the school stating that you have parental responsibility and were not consulted. Otherwise, mediation is the only other alternative you have if your ex will not discuss this directly. There may be reasons why your ex has done this i.e uniformity of names with other siblings etc, so discussing this between you is the best option.
SeparatedDads - 4-May-18 @ 10:03 AM
Hi my ex has had my sons surnsmr changed to hers at school. Is this allowed even know he’s under my name on birth certificate and I have accessed to him through court order at weekend ?
Tony - 3-May-18 @ 10:29 AM
T - Your Question:
Hi my ex has change our son surname to stepfather surname without my consent is that allowed?

Our Response:
Much depends upon whether your ex has changed your son via Deedpoll (in which case, as specified in the article, if you have parental responsibility she would have to have your consent) or unofficially via schools and GP. If she has changed your son's name unofficially, then there is little you can do regarding this matter. If your ex has changed your son's name via Deedpoll, then you would have to refer the matter to the courts if you wish to challenge this.
SeparatedDads - 27-Mar-18 @ 1:47 PM
Hi my ex has change our son surname to stepfather surname without my consent is that allowed?
T - 27-Mar-18 @ 6:08 AM
Grahamb35 - Your Question:
Hi my son is now 17 but I have just found out he changed his name by depol when he was 15. I have PR and was not aware. How can this happen without me being informed? What can I do about it now? I don't mind too much that he wanted to change his name and would have given my consent if asked but it just annoys me that once again my thoughts were not even considered.Graham

Our Response:
Before UK Deed Poll Service can issue a Deed Poll to change a child's name, it must be satisfied that everyone with parental responsibility for the child has consented to the name change.This means when one parent submits an application, there must also be a letter of consent signed by everyone with parental responsibility for your child. You would have to look into this matter directly if you feel your son's name been officially changed without your consent. Please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 15-Mar-18 @ 10:01 AM
Hi my son is now 17 but I have just found out he changed his name by depol when he was 15. I have PR and was not aware. How can this happen without me being informed? What can I do about it now? I don't mind too much that he wanted to change his name and would have given my consent if asked but it just annoys me that once again my thoughts were not even considered. Graham
Grahamb35 - 14-Mar-18 @ 12:44 PM
Taff - Your Question:
My ex wife has remarried and wants her new husband to have parental responsibility for my 15 and 13 year old sons. If I allow him too does this mean I lose my parental responsibility for them

Our Response:
You can see more via the gov.uk link here, which should help answer your question.
SeparatedDads - 8-Mar-18 @ 10:55 AM
My ex wife has remarried and wants her new husband to have parental responsibility for my 15 and 13 year old sons. If I allow him too does this mean I lose my parental responsibility for them
Taff - 7-Mar-18 @ 2:06 PM
I got a letter from my ex solicitor asking for my consent to change my daughters last name to her step daddy’s name bye de pol .i gave my consent because I haven’t seen my daughter in years .anyway .to me it wasn’t a big deal.i was told bye there solicitor that she is over the moon for her step father to officially adopt her they are apparently they are to peas in a pod .so I am stoked for them.might sound weird to some but I let go off my daughter many years ago .in the letter from solicitor i do not have to pay child support anymore her father will.so I guess everyone is happy .thanks for reading .
Laurie - 14-Feb-18 @ 10:34 PM
@Chris - yes I agree. My lad is my lad, it doesn't matter what name he goes under it's water of a duck's back to me. It's the foundation of our relationship that is important to me. He knows I'm there for him and I'm his flesh and blood. That counts more than any surname he uses.
Jules - 13-Feb-18 @ 12:33 PM
Mike - Your Question:
After divorcing my ex has re married my son is 11 born before we married he has my surname but now she's started using her new name after his surname I pay and have my son and have done since divorce 5 yrs ago I wasn't even consulted and she now withholding my son to b spiteful we have a great bond and I'm worried this will upset him he's all I have left from my 10 yrs with his mum who cheated and I had no option than toleave our hom and my son it broke me I have and now she's expecting me to roll over again and I can't my son's my life !! Advice please

Our Response:
Your ex cannot change your son's name officially by Deed Poll without your consent, please see link here . However, she can change your son's name unofficially for the likes of school or GP etc. If your ex is withholding access, you can see more via the link here , which will tell you the process you have to go through in order to have access reinstated. Plus, the link regarding mediation here , which you would have to suggest to your ex before a court application would be allowed.
SeparatedDads - 13-Feb-18 @ 11:06 AM
Mate let her change the name means nothing .if It bothers you that much get (solicitor )maybe you need to (let go ).my ex done the same and she cheated on me all the time and calls and tells me that my daughter step daddy is better then me out of (spite ha ha ).its the gamesmanship of separating .dont read into it .get a (blood solicitor).
Chris - 13-Feb-18 @ 6:06 AM
After divorcing my ex hasre married my son is 11 born before we married he has mysurname but now she's started using her new name after his surname I pay and have my son and have done since divorce 5 yrs ago I wasn't even consulted and she now withholding my son to b spiteful we have a great bond and I'm worried this will upset him he's all I have left from my 10 yrs with his mum who cheated andI had no option than toleave our hom andmy son it broke me I have and now she's expecting me to roll over again and I can't my son's my life !! Advice please
Mike - 12-Feb-18 @ 3:38 PM
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
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