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Changing Your Child's Surname

By: Elizabeth Mugan BA/BSc, PGDipLaw, BVC, CIArb - Updated: 12 Aug 2017 |
 
Surname Child Father Mother Husband

If you are separated or divorced, there may come a time when your ex-partner wishes to change your child’s surname. It is relatively common, however, for one of the parents, usually the father, to disagree with a name change.

Reasons for Changing Your Child’s Surname

It is usually the case that your child will carry your family name, particularly if you were married. After your divorce, your ex may wish to revert back to her maiden name and she may want to change your child’s surname to match her maiden name. Alternatively, Your Ex May Meet And Marry Someone Else, adopting her new husband’s surname. Again, she may wish to change your child’s surname to match her new family name.

Understanding the Procedure

The procedure for changing your child’s surname can be carried out using a family law solicitor. But the mother must get permission from you before she can do this.

Some divorces are relatively amicable and you may not be too concerned with a change to your child’s surname. However, many fathers wish for their family name to be carried on. In these circumstances, it is your legal right to refuse a name change.

Changing Your Child’s Name Without Permission

If you refuse a name change, the mother has no right to carry it out. If she was to change the name without your consent, you can appeal to the Court. The Court will take into consideration whether the name change is necessary and whether it would be detrimental to the child to change their surname, or in some cases to not change their surname. For example, if one child in a family unit had a different surname to the rest of the family, this may be considered as detrimental to the child.

If you want to change your child’s surname, you must also seek permission from the other parent. In the case of divorced couples who have lived together for some time, a Court is unlikely to allow a name change where one parent disagrees with such change.

Unmarried Couples

If you are unmarried and have separated from a partner, but have lived as a family for some time, a Court is likely to treat you in the same way as a married couple. If you disagree with a change in name, a Court would be likely to agree that it is in the best interests of your child to keep their current name.

This differs, however, if you have not been a family unit for very long, particularly where you are not registered on your child’s birth certificate (see our article on What Rights Do I Have If I'm Not On The Birth Certificate). In many cases, a Court will allow the mother to change the child’s surname, where it would be negative for the child to have a different surname. Again, this could be the case where a mother has remarried and had another child, all carrying the surname of her new husband.

A Court may rule that it would be in the best interest for your child to also carry the same surname, so that he or she feels part of the family unit. In these circumstances, the father is in a very weak position indeed.

If your ex-partner wishes to change your child’s surname, you should talk to them, tell them how you feel, and discuss why they feel that changing the surname is the best idea. Make it clear that you do not want the name change. If this does not work, seek advice from a solicitor specialising in family law.

For more information on your rights, read our article on Separation Rights For Fathers on this site.

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[Add a Comment]
So my son is 2 next month and starting nursery. When we registered him his dad came to the register but our son was put into my name due complications with our relationship ship and I thort it was just for the easiest. We have everything sorted and he has been a mayjor part in my child's life for the last 2 years and we are now engaged we are looking to changing my sons name to his dads. Preferably before he starts nurserys to prevent confusion. How do I do this? Will it change his birth cirtificate or have a deep poll? Help please?
MummyB - 12-Aug-17 @ 6:18 PM
Tosh - Your Question:
So what your advice please need to know asap as need a desistion now my son says he just wants Thurston his step dad name am I been selfish and not letting it happen as I know he is mine and that don't change anything I just hate the fact that my name has to be taken out should I do it does that make me a bad dad if I let it happen and fight for my name would that feel like I don't love him enough In letting it happen

Our Response:
We cannot make a decision on your behalf. However, much depends upon what your son wants and what YOU think is in his best interests. If you can remove your personal feelings from the equation, this will help. If you wished to challenge your son's mother's decision, then you would have to apply through court to try to prevent it. This would cost financially as well as emotionally. A name is just a name, your son will always be your son. While emotionally, it may be difficult for you to accept this, in the greater scheme of things it does not detract upon the loving relationship you can continue to have with your son. It is understandable that while he is a child, he may wish to appear in school to have exactly the same name as his brother. If he has a slightly different name, his school friends will always question this and this is perhaps what he doesn't want. There is no saying that when he is older, he might wish to change it back. I'm sure you'll feel better in yourself if you let him change his name with your blessing and at the same time reassure him that his relationship with you will stay the same. Another option is to ask your son's mother to keep the double-barelled name on the birth certificate, and use whatever name he chooses for the purposes of his GP and school. The school should allow this.
SeparatedDads - 10-Aug-17 @ 9:51 AM
My name his on birth certificate from birth but if his name changes from calum David horn my name too calum David Thurston his step dad will my name be taken off my the birth certificate or does it have to be double barrel or not or dosent that matter could it still be my name still on birth certificate and still name change
Tosh - 8-Aug-17 @ 4:02 PM
So what your advice please need to know asap as need a desistion now my son says he just wants Thurston his step dad name am I been selfish and not letting it happen as I know he is mine and that don't change anythingI just hate the fact that my name has to be taken out should I do it does that make me a bad dad if I let it happen and fight for my name would that feel like I don't love him enough In letting it happen
Tosh - 8-Aug-17 @ 3:54 PM
Tosh - Your Question:
My ex wants my son name changed to her now married name but to take my name out what power then does she have to do if she wanted too and my son new step dad does he have more power then me and if he had parent responsibility does that give him more right then me if my name stays in as a double barrel so it will be calum David horn Thurston ( horn is my name and Thurston hos step dad ) will they still use my name at school as he wants Thurston to be like his brother how does that work and what about birth certificate if my name is not on the birth certificate does thSt mean I can't do stuff like holiday or bank account savings for him

Our Response:
A name change does not mean your son's stepdad will have any further rights and neither does it give him parental responsibility rights. If your name is not on your son's birth certificate, then you can apply to court for parental responsibility, please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 8-Aug-17 @ 3:34 PM
My ex wants my son name changed to her now married name but to take my name out what power then does she have to do if she wanted too and my son new step dad does he have more power then me and if he had parent responsibility does that give him more right then me if my name stays in as a double barrel will they still use my name at school as he wants Thurston to be like his brother how does that work and what about birth certificate if my name is not on the birth certificate does thSt mean I can't do stuff like holiday or bank account savings for him
Tosh - 8-Aug-17 @ 12:22 PM
Paul - Your Question:
My ex partner changed my son's name through court order with my consent first I knew of this was when I received a letter saying g I was no longer legally responsible for him ? 3 years letter have received a letter from child maintenance for payments as she has contacted them! What is the situition regarding this?

Our Response:
If you are the biological father of your child, then you are by law responsible for helping to financially support him.
SeparatedDads - 3-Aug-17 @ 12:50 PM
K - Your Question:
Hi. I've been dealing with an absent father of my first son since he was born. I was never married to this guy but he is on my sons birth certificate. My son goes by my husbands surname and only knows him as his father since day one. How can I convince the school to let my baby go by what his name really is and being changed to before showing any documents. I don't think it's right for the school to want to have my son confused as to what his last name is. It's not right to put a child through that when he's been through enough already. Is there anyway to get them to at least hyphenate it until his name is changed to everyone else's name in my household? Please help!

Our Response:
You don't say whether you have requested the school changes his name already. If the school is refusing that you change his name 'unofficially' to your preferred surname, you may ask a solicitor to write the school a letter requesting a name change on the basis of 'family uniformity'.
SeparatedDads - 3-Aug-17 @ 12:35 PM
My ex partner changed my son's name through court order with my consent first I knew of this was when I received a letter saying g I was no longer legally responsiblefor him ? 3 years letter have received a letter from child maintenance for paymentsas she has contacted them! What is the situition regarding this?
Paul - 2-Aug-17 @ 7:59 AM
Hi. I've been dealing with an absent father of my first son since he was born. I was never married to this guy but he is on my sons birth certificate. My son goes by my husbands surname and only knows him as his father since day one. How can I convince the school to let my baby go by what his name really is and being changed to before showing any documents. I don't think it's right for the school to want to have my son confused as to what his last name is. It's not right to put a child through that when he's been through enough already. Is there anyway to get them to at least hyphenate it until his name is changed to everyone else's name in my household? Please help!
K - 2-Aug-17 @ 4:51 AM
Daz - Your Question:
HiI have full parental response ability.Was married to ex.Son has a know as name with her new partner. I've not given consent for this.My son is moving to secondary school Sept. Can they keep this surname or will it go back to my surname?

Our Response:
If your son's name was changed unofficially and he is moving school, it is likely the name he is using currently would be transferred over to the new school.
SeparatedDads - 10-Jul-17 @ 12:46 PM
Hi I have full parental response ability. Was married to ex. Son has a know as name withher new partner. I've not given consent for this. My son is moving to secondary school Sept. Can they keep this surname or will it go back to my surname?
Daz - 9-Jul-17 @ 11:20 PM
Hi can my ex wife change her daughters name to my name even though she is not my child and my ex wife has kept my surname
Myers - 7-Jul-17 @ 1:54 PM
Tricky - Your Question:
Ex girlfriend changed some of my daughter birth certificate name how can I find out new name

Our Response:
Please see gov.uk link here which will help you further.
SeparatedDads - 27-Jun-17 @ 12:07 PM
Ex girlfriend changed some of my daughter birth certificate name how can I find out new name
Tricky - 26-Jun-17 @ 4:51 PM
Small - Your Question:
My ex and I we changed the kids surname to his only to find out 7 year later that my son is nt his ,so can I change my kids surname to mine cuz we were not married he only paid a bit of lobola he didn't pay it all.I want to change them to my surname

Our Response:
If the person registered on the birth certificate gives their permission, then yes you can change the surname. Please see Deed Poll link here.
SeparatedDads - 26-Jun-17 @ 2:57 PM
My ex and I we changed the kids surname to his only to find out 7 year later that my son is nt his ,so can I change my kids surname to mine cuz we were not married he only paid a bit of lobola he didn't pay it all.I want to change them to my surname
Small - 26-Jun-17 @ 7:42 AM
Hannah - Your Question:
Hey wondered if anyone can shed any light, Iv been married for 4 years and have 3 children & 1 on the way. My 2 eldest boys are from a previous partner. One of which has his biological father on his birth cert. BUT my maiden name. They are already known at school/doctors/hospital to have my marital family name. But my question is for my son who has his father on the birth cert (who has had no contact with him for 5 years) and I have no idea where in the world he is or how to contact him, can I change his name to my marital name without his father's concent? I have the same question on obtaining a passport for him too.

Our Response:
You can see more via the Deed Poll link here. If you genuinely cannot find your child's biological father and he is not traceable through CMS, then you would have to apply through court. If the biological parent is absent, then the court will decide upon what it thinks would be in the best interests of your son.
SeparatedDads - 23-Jun-17 @ 10:03 AM
Hey wondered if anyone can shed any light, Iv been married for 4 years and have 3 children & 1 on the way. My 2 eldest boys are from a previous partner. One of which has his biological father on his birth cert. BUT my maiden name. They are already known at school/doctors/hospital to have my marital family name. But my question is for my son who has his father on the birth cert(who has had no contact with him for 5 years) and I have no idea where in the world he is or how to contact him, can I change his name to my marital name without his father's concent? I have the same question on obtaining a passport for him too.
Hannah - 22-Jun-17 @ 12:36 AM
My daughter's last name is peters ...she has a sever speech disorder. Her father and I were never married. .he has seen her 3 times since 2014...she is getting made fun of not only for her speech but also beca use her last Name sounds very perverted....I talked to her father about it ... he's never around hardly ...but on..birth certificate. He says she is tough she will be okay after she fights a bunch.... uh hello ....she don't need that....what can I do of anything about getting her last name changed to mine..
Amber - 21-Apr-17 @ 3:04 PM
My sons daughter was in care when we found out about her existence. DNA proved he was the biological father and after a long court process the fathers name on the birth certificate was changed to that of my sons and a court awarded him full custody of his daughter. My granddaughters biological mother still has parental consent and has weekly contact with her. My granddaughter is now 9 and wants to change her surname from that of her mother to our family name. When I have looked at deed poll it says that the man originally named on my granddaughters birth certificate would still have parental and we would need his consent as well as the mothers to change my granddaughters surname, this would be impossible as we have no way of knowing where he is now.The biological mother has no problem with the surname change. How would we go about doing this as this is a major thing for my granddaughter. Thanks in advance
NanaKay - 13-Apr-17 @ 9:11 PM
Dan - Your Question:
Hi my partners mum changed his sur name twice while he was growing up. He originally had his fathers surname but when he and his mother divorced and she re married she changed it to her new husbands. A few years later they also divorced and she re married again and once again changed his name this time officially through the court. He is now 27 years old and expecting a child and would like to change his name back to his biological fathers how do we do this please?

Our Response:
You can apply via the Deed Poll link here. The process is quite straightforward, so he should not have any problems making the change.
SeparatedDads - 12-Apr-17 @ 11:10 AM
Hi my partners mum changed his sur name twice while he was growing up. He originally had his fathers surname but when he and his mother divorced and she re married she changed it to her new husbands. A few years later they also divorced and she re married again and once again changed his name this time officially through the court. He is now 27 years old and expecting a child and would like to change his name back to his biological fathers how do we do this please?
Dan - 11-Apr-17 @ 4:27 PM
At 16 the children can change their names. The article seems to miss this. Even under pressure.
Chuck - 7-Apr-17 @ 5:58 PM
Hiya I have an 8 year old daughter and her dad don't see her are have any contact he hasn't seen her since she was 11week old my problem is she has his surname and I did change it by depoll but the passport office said her passport has to be her dads name cos it's not a court order any help would be grate x debs
Deb - 6-Apr-17 @ 4:06 PM
My husband has a son with his ex wife and she has married an Albanian man. He is 25 and she is 49. Can she change their sons name so that his middle name is her new husbands surname without consent or does consent only apply to surnames? The fact she is changing thei sons name without asking her ex husband seems rather odd. Looking forward to your response.
Parker - 24-Mar-17 @ 10:47 PM
My daughter has twins with our last name. She was not married but the twins are now 5 years. She is now plan on getting married and her boy friend asked permission to marry her but I told him I didn't want the twins last name changed. He agreed. Now my daughter said after they get married he wants to adopt the twins. Can they still keep their last names they had when they were born as on their birth certificate?
Gary - 14-Mar-17 @ 7:10 PM
Hello...i and my husband are not living together anymore we are seprated but not divorced can i change my daughter surname to my surname ....
renu - 8-Mar-17 @ 3:18 PM
If I with my boyfriend are not married but when child will birth I would like to give my surname because I don't know about our situationin future.But if we will married in a future is it be difficult to change baby's surname to his surname?
Agulera - 4-Mar-17 @ 9:55 AM
Me & my ex have to two but his always been in & out of they lives due to New gf ect but for the past year & half he hasn't botherd only if he sees them in street. But my kids have asked if they could change they nanas back to mine as up untill 4-5years ago I put him on that birth certificates along with his last name....Big mistake I know! But could I change it back as his text n said I could.
skm - 3-Mar-17 @ 5:42 PM
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