Home > Legal > Can My Ex Change My Children's Names?

Can My Ex Change My Children's Names?

By: Imogen Jones LLB (hons) - Updated: 12 Jan 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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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
Chris - Your Question:
I was married when my son was born. I was present when he was born. We seperated 45 days later. The state of Indiana gave her legal guardianship. It has been 5 years. I pay child support and am current. Last month she got my sons name changed without my permission. The courts have my current address and phone number. I was never contacted by phone or mail. I have no criminal record. Do I have any rights at all??? Can they not only take my only son from me but erase my name too???

Our Response:
I'm afraid as we are a UK-based site, we can only advise on UK-based family law, therefore you would have to seek US legal advice. I hope you manage to sort it out.
SeparatedDads - 13-Sep-16 @ 10:08 AM
I was married when my son was born. I was present when he was born. We seperated 45 days later. The state of Indiana gave her legal guardianship. It has been 5 years. I pay child support and am current. Last month she got my sons name changed without my permission. The courts have my current address and phone number. I was never contacted by phone or mail. I have no criminal record. Do I have any rights at all??? Can they not only take my only son from me but erase my name too???
Chris - 12-Sep-16 @ 6:28 AM
The mother of my kids has forged my signature to change my children's surname to hers. I have parental responsibility. She was able to do this by getting hold of a solicitors stamp and forging mine and a known lawyers signiture on a amateur written document. How am I able to find out if she has changed their passports and what is the prison sentence for this if any
Des - 9-Sep-16 @ 7:31 PM
Salam544 - Your Question:
HiThis is bit of a weird one I know. My ex has recently had a baby (not mine) and there's a rumour that she added me as the father because she had our marriage certificate even though we were divorced before she fell pregnant.Is there a way I can check this out because we had a very messy break up and there's no way she would tell me either way

Our Response:
You can order a birth certificate via the gov.uk site here. Please be aware that if your ex has registered you as the father and decides to claim child maintenance then you will be responsible until you can prove you are not the father. The only way to prove you are not, would be either to request your ex does a DNA test and if she refuses you would have to apply through the courts.
SeparatedDads - 31-Aug-16 @ 11:31 AM
Hi This is bit of a weird one I know. My ex has recently had a baby (not mine) and there's a rumour that she added me as the father because she had our marriage certificate even though we were divorced before she fell pregnant. Is there a way I can check this out because we had a very messy break up and there's no way she would tell me either way
Salam544 - 30-Aug-16 @ 2:31 PM
My my ex wife has let my daughter change her full name because she apparently wants to be a boy. She is 16 and I was informed if this by text on father day. The name hasn't got my surname or ex wife's surname. I pay csa but have stopped it. I haven't given permission for this. What are my rights with regards to permission and paying csa?
Skye - 12-Aug-16 @ 11:08 PM
Simon- Your Question:
I haven't seen my daughter for four years. I still pay CSA. I just been told that my x as change my daughter surname to hers. When my aunty said to her that you can't do that. She said she can cause her dad have had contact with her.Is this true can any body help me.And I found out that my x signed my signature so my daughter can get a passport.

Our Response:
There are two different ways to change a child's surname, one is by Deed Poll. The only way to do this without your permission is listed in the article under the header: Can They Go Ahead Without Permission? If the list is not applicable to you, then the only way your ex can change your daughter's name by Deed Poll is if your ex can prove to the courts that she cannot contact you. However, if you pay CSA this means you are easily contactable and therefore, any court application would not go ahead without requesting your consent. The other way to change a child's name is informally (which does not need your permission). This means your ex can approach the school, GP, etc and request that your child goes under a different name. While this is permissable, it does not mean there will be any change on your child's birth certificate or passport i.e your surname will remain your daughter's official name. If your ex has forged a passport signature, you should contact the passport office to report this. If you wish to check whether your child still has your name, then you can double check through your local register office. I hope this helps clarify matters.
SeparatedDads - 19-Jul-16 @ 10:10 AM
I haven't seen my daughter for four years. I still pay CSA. I just been told that my x as change my daughter surname to hers. When my aunty said to her that you can't do that. She said she can cause her dad have had contact with her... Is this true can any body help me. And I found out that my x signed my signature so my daughter can get a passport.
Simon - 18-Jul-16 @ 6:58 AM
Me and my X partner have split up and she has told me she is getting married and is trying for kids and wants too change his surname too her partner surname . Evan when my child was born I took her surname instead of mine can she change this ?
Marko - 13-Jul-16 @ 10:51 AM
The father of my child has endless amounts of debts from phone companies, insurance companies, credit cards and I worry that it will be passed onto my 5 year old son at some point. My ex runs away from his debts by constantly moving house . Would I still not be able to officially change my son's surname? His father will definitely not give his consent to do so.
Emma - 12-Jul-16 @ 5:41 PM
Gooddad - Your Question:
Supposing my ex changed our child's surname without my permission, I have PR and regular contact 2 nights a week. What are they ACTUAL consequences of changing surname without my consent or even falsifying permission to change the name.

Our Response:
Your ex can change your child's name unofficially i.e school, doctors etc. However, in order to change your child's name officially, as specified in the article, your ex would have to ask for your consent. It is unlikely the court would allow a name change unless your ex either has your permission, or been able to categorically prove that she has been unable to trace or contact you via all means possible and over a specific period of time, in order to request your permission.
SeparatedDads - 17-Jun-16 @ 2:22 PM
Supposing my ex changed our child's surname without my permission, I have PR and regular contact 2 nights a week. What are they ACTUAL consequences of changing surname without my consent or even falsifying permission to change the name.
Gooddad - 16-Jun-16 @ 7:35 PM
AceT - Your Question:
Hi I have recently discovered that my ex partner has registered my 3 1/2 year old daughter at her nursery as her own surname. We've had a disagreement in the past about changing her surname and it seems like she is doing it backhandedly knowing i'll never agree, with her due to start school next year I'm concerned that she will register her under the wrong surname and actively try to convince my daughter as she grows with the wrong name, to change it when she's older, what can I do?

Our Response:
There is little you can do here, unless you wish to take the matter to court. Your daughter will still officially have your surname, as your ex cannot change it legally without your consent if you have Parental Responsibility. However, she can change the name informally i.e; school, doctors etc.
SeparatedDads - 7-Jun-16 @ 2:52 PM
Hi I have recently discovered that my ex partner has registered my 3 1/2 year old daughter at her nursery as her own surname. We've had a disagreement in the past about changing her surname and it seems like she is doing it backhandedly knowing i'll never agree, with her due to start school next year I'm concerned that she will register her under the wrong surname and actively try to convince my daughter as she grows with the wrong name, to change it when she's older, what can I do?
AceT - 7-Jun-16 @ 3:14 AM
MJRose - Your Question:
Hi,My ex went 'MIA' over 4 years ago with our daughter and I've recently tracked her down and have started to build a relationship with my daughter again. However, when my daughter and I were talking she informed me her name is now something else. For example she was registered with my surname 'blue' and at school etc is registered as 'blue yellow' yellow being my exes surname and my ex claiming blue is her middle name. Hope that makes sense. Is there a way I can find out if my ex has changed our daughters name my deed poll? Also, is there a way I can request through school that her legal surname be used rather than this made up one? Thanks in advance!!!

Our Response:
As specified in the article, you don’t have to follow a legal process to start using a new name, and it sounds that this could be what has happened in this instance. If your ex wanted to change your daughter's name officially, then if you have parental responsibility for your daughter your ex would have asked for your consent. The only way she could have avoided this was if she could prove there was no way of contacting you. So, for instance if you pay child maintenance then you could easily be traced. I have included a CAB link here which will explain in more detail and answer your question regarding checking records etc.
SeparatedDads - 17-May-16 @ 10:07 AM
Dan- Your Question:
Hi My ex wife moved my child to Scotland from England as she wanted her new partner be the sole farther figure in my child's life. When she got married again she asked to change my child's name by deed poll. Which I allowed. The last time I had contact with my child she was three she's 10 now. Do I have to still pay maintance? My living costs are limited due to high work travel costs.

Our Response:
Yes, unless your ex's parnter has adopted your child, then as you are considered the biological parent you will be responsible for paying child maintenance until your child reaches at least the age of 16.
SeparatedDads - 16-May-16 @ 12:14 PM
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