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Changing Your Child's Surname

By: Elizabeth Mugan BA/BSc, PGDipLaw, BVC, CIArb - Updated: 6 Jul 2018 |
 
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.

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]
mike - Your Question:
I met this single mom of two kids, and we have a relationship almost 3 months then I discovered that shes pregnant with her exboyfriend. so that's make it 3 kids. then I decide to adopt the unborn kid illegally without the consent of her ex. then time passed by her true colors appeared. now I know why her ex doesn't bother her anymore. and I want out. bad for me because we registered the 3rd kid to my surname. is there any way I or we can change the kid's surname?

Our Response:
It seems that changing the child's surname isn't the issue here. I assume the issue is that you wish to disprove your paternity. In order to do this, you would have to take a DNA test, please see link here . Until you do, you will be considered the child's father and liable to pay child maintenance for his day-to-day upkeep until the child leaves full-time education. Until you prove otherwise, as far as the authorities are concerned if you are registered on the birth certificate the child is biologically yours. Therefore, in order to prove the child is not yours you would have to refer the matter to the courts.
SeparatedDads - 6-Jul-18 @ 3:00 PM
I met this single mom of two kids, and we have a relationship almost 3 months then I discovered that shes pregnant with her exboyfriend.. so that's make it 3 kids.. then I decide to adopt the unborn kid illegally without the consent of her ex.. then time passed by her true colors appeared.. now I know why her ex doesn't bother her anymore.. and I want out.. bad for me because we registered the 3rd kid to my surname.. is there any way I or we can change the kid's surname?
mike - 5-Jul-18 @ 3:55 PM
Domo - Your Question:
Hi My daughter is starting infants school in September and my ex has already said that she is taking legal action as I haven't consented to changing her surname to her Mums surname.Can I prevent the school from using her Mums surname?

Our Response:
You can try. However, I'm not sure it will get you very far. Your child's mum is able to change your child's name 'unofficially' if she requests this via the school i.e she wishes your child to be known as the same name as her, or any other siblings your child may have. If your ex wants the name change permanently and you refuse, then your ex will have the option to take the matter to court. If she does, you can see what the process is here in more detail. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order. Your option is to weigh up what you also think is in your child's best interests, as going to court will cost. If your ex wants to change your child's name because of family uniformity, then it is likely the court will allow this.
SeparatedDads - 18-Jun-18 @ 9:19 AM
Hi My daughter is starting infants school in September and my ex has already said that she is taking legal action as I haven't consented to changing her surname to her Mums surname. Can I prevent the school from using her Mums surname?
Domo - 17-Jun-18 @ 12:15 AM
Sarah Perkins - Your Question:
My oldest son would like his name changed to match the name of the rest of our family and my name as it is soon to be changed to through marriage. Me and his dad haven't been together since he was one and since I have had 4 more children with my fiance. He also stopped seeing his child just before he was 3 years old and cut off all contact with us and started his own families and he is now nearly 10. His name is on the birth certificate but I do not know of his whereabouts and have no contact with him. Would I be able to change my son's name without his permission?

Our Response:
The link here , will tell you all you need to know.
SeparatedDads - 15-Jun-18 @ 3:39 PM
My oldest son would like his name changed to match the name of the rest of our family and my name as it is soon to be changed to through marriage. Me and his dad haven't been together since he was one and since i have had 4 more children with my fiance. He also stopped seeing his child just before he was 3 years old and cut off all contact with us and started his own families and he is now nearly 10. His name is on the birth certificate but I do not know of his whereabouts and have no contact with him. Would I be able to change my son's name without his permission?
Sarah Perkins - 15-Jun-18 @ 1:18 PM
Looby - Your Question:
Hello, can anyone tell me where i’d Stand- my child is 1 1/2, and hasn’t had contact with his father in almost a year since he was arrested and cautioned for assaulting him. His father is on the birth certificate, but we were not married. He has his fathers surname, but I want to change it to mine. Under the circumstances, contacting my ex about this is not particularly simple. Does he still have the same parental rights in this case? Thanks.

Our Response:
If the father has parental responsibility, you still have to ask permission, please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 4-Jun-18 @ 1:50 PM
Hello, can anyone tell me where i’d Stand- my child is 1 1/2, and hasn’t had contact with his father in almost a year since he was arrested and cautioned for assaulting him. His father is on the birth certificate, but we were not married. He has his fathers surname, but I want to change it to mine. Under the circumstances, contacting my ex about this is not particularly simple. Does he still have the same parental rights in this case? Thanks.
Looby - 2-Jun-18 @ 2:31 PM
My daughter has my last name well she still going under it on facebook.Her mother was going to change it but i called her and sweet talked her i had to turned on the good old boy charm I turned it on full blast to save my rights To my daughter.because i didnt want to lose my rights.
chriso - 25-May-18 @ 8:51 PM
Hi I let my ex change my child's surname to her new married surname as part of a CSA agreement to which she has not followed her word.. is it possible to have a child's surname changed back once it's been changed
Lee1971 - 25-May-18 @ 9:21 AM
Raf- Your Question:
Hi,wanna ask you what surname my child will have.As she is still married and have already two kids. My baby with her will be born in few months.Can you please help with that?Thank you

Our Response:
The mother of the child has the right to choose the surname she wishes to register the child under.
SeparatedDads - 1-May-18 @ 12:24 PM
Hi,wanna ask you what surname my child will have.As she is still married and have already two kids... My baby with her will be born in few months.Can you please help with that?Thank you
Raf - 30-Apr-18 @ 7:24 PM
Ajay87 - Your Question:
Hi My daughters dad cut all contact via his wife nearly 18 months ago and hasn’t made contact since. She no longer wants to go by his name and I do not know where he is. Can I change her name via deed poll?Thanks

Our Response:
You would not be able to change your child's name by Deed Poll if the father is registered on the birth certificate. You would have to seek permission through the courts if you cannot contact your ex.
SeparatedDads - 27-Apr-18 @ 12:18 PM
Hi My daughters dad cut all contact via his wife nearly 18 months ago and hasn’t made contact since. She no longer wants to go by his name and I do not know where he is. Can I change her name via deed poll? Thanks
Ajay87 - 20-Apr-18 @ 10:07 PM
taz123 - Your Question:
Can my daughter name be change if not on birth certificate

Our Response:
If you are not registered on the birth certificate as the father, then the resident parent can choose to change your child's name without having to ask for your consent.
SeparatedDads - 20-Apr-18 @ 10:46 AM
Can my daughter name be change if not on birth certificate
taz123 - 19-Apr-18 @ 7:40 PM
Chazza - Your Question:
Hi can someone help me please ? Can I change my son's name to my surname ? He is 4 year old he says his surname name same as mine. But on his birth certificate is his father's name. They have the same name he hasn't seen his father for 2 1/2 years. I have a court order he's not allowed near me cause of domestic violence. I have also signed child protection orders that he can't see the child incase he hurts him. So he decided to take me to court to see his son. I keep asking my solicitor can I change his surname but he's not very helpful. Thank you ??

Our Response:
A child's legal name can easily be changed by Deed Poll providing everyone with parental responsibility (PR) for the child consents to the name change, please see more information via the link here. If your ex doesn't consent, then as as the article explains you would have to apply to court. If you do not wish to take the matter to court, you can change your child's name unofficially by allowing him to go under a new name via your son's school and GP. However, his passport and other official documentation would remain under his original name until it was changed via Deedpoll.
SeparatedDads - 16-Apr-18 @ 12:41 PM
Hi can someone help me please ? Can I change my son's name to my surname ? He is 4 year old he says his surname name same as mine. But on his birth certificate is his father's name. They have the same name he hasn't seen his father for 2 1/2 years. I have a court order he's not allowed near me cause of domestic violence. I have also signed child protection orders that he can't see the child incase he hurts him. So he decided to take me to court to see his son. I keep asking my solicitor can i change his surname but he's not very helpful. Thank you ??
Chazza - 14-Apr-18 @ 5:24 PM
Craig- Your Question:
I've recently split from my partner we have a son of 5 together who has my partners last name , I wish to change my sons name to my last name my partner had agreed how do I go about things from here ?? Any help would be appreciated thx

Our Response:
If your partner has parental responsibility, then you would have to request his consent. You can see more via the link here.
SeparatedDads - 23-Mar-18 @ 9:22 AM
I've recently split from my partner we have a son of 5 together who has my partners last name , I wish to change my sons name to my last name my partner had agreed how do I go about things from here ?? Any help would be appreciated thx
Craig - 22-Mar-18 @ 12:31 PM
Cassie - Your Question:
My daughter is 3 and I have been lived with her dad, he’s on the birth certificate but I want to add my surname after he’s and he’s said no so could I just change it with out his permission or can I add my name by deed poll, thanks

Our Response:
You can see more via the DeedPoll link here, which should help answer your question.
SeparatedDads - 19-Mar-18 @ 2:03 PM
My daughter is 3 and I’ve not lived with her dad, she has his last name but I want to add my last name after his but he’s said no, do I need permission to do this or can I just change it so she has the same surname as myself and her brother I had from a previous partner thanks
Cassie - 17-Mar-18 @ 8:57 PM
My daughter is 3 and I have been lived with her dad, he’s on the birth certificate but I want to add my surname after he’s and he’s said no so could I just change it with out his permission or can I add my name by deed poll, thanks
Cassie - 17-Mar-18 @ 8:50 PM
Jimbob - Your Question:
I’ve just found out that my ex partner has changed my daughters name officially by deed poll without my consent, I’m named on her birth certificate, have parental responsibility, full active involvement in her life, we see each other all the time, and I willingly pay maintenance for her care. What are my options to get this action reversed?

Our Response:
You would have to apply directly to court. However, as a rule, the other parent with parental responsibility has to be consulted and asked permission of first before Deed Poll will consent to this, please see link here. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order. So it doesn't mean the court will naturally reverse the process. Another angle to consider is whether your ex has changed your child's name unofficially i.e through school, GP etc, which your ex can do if she chooses without going through official channels.
SeparatedDads - 19-Feb-18 @ 12:41 PM
I’ve just found out that my ex partner has changed my daughters name officially by deed poll without my consent, I’m named on her birth certificate, have parental responsibility, full active involvement in her life, we see each other all the time, and I willingly pay maintenance for her care. What are my options to get this action reversed?
Jimbob - 18-Feb-18 @ 8:18 PM
Khulet - Your Question:
My eldest child which is 8 years old now have his fathers surname, and we have been separated since my child is born. I have my own family now im married for 2 years and my eX boyfriend who is my eldest biological father have his own family as well how can I change my sons surname to my husband surname now?? Do I need to ask for my eX's permission?i hope you can help me. Thanks

Our Response:
You would have to ask your ex's permission, please see link here, which should help answer your question.
SeparatedDads - 15-Feb-18 @ 3:32 PM
My eldest child which is 8 years old now have his fathers surname, and we have been separated since my child is born.. I have my own family now im married for 2 years and my eX boyfriend who is my eldest biological father have his own family as well how can i change my sons surname to my husband surname now?? Do i need to ask for my eX's permission?i hope you can help me.. Thanks
Khulet - 15-Feb-18 @ 4:07 AM
Mpe - Your Question:
HiI got married and already had two kids which are not my husband's, I change my two kids surname to my husband surname and now I feel like I have made a mistake. is it possible to change my kids surname to my maiden surname?

Our Response:
If your husband does not have parental responsibility of your children, you do not have to ask his permission to change their names, you only need ask the other parent who has PR. Please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 22-Jan-18 @ 3:50 PM
Hi I got married and already had two kids which are not my husband's, I change my two kids surname to my husband surname and now I feel like I have made a mistake. is it possible to change my kids surname to my maiden surname?
Mpe - 22-Jan-18 @ 6:12 AM
Diegorolo - Your Question:
My fiance has a little 10 months boy from another father registered in the birth certificate and he doesn't agree to change the child surname. They were not married and they didn't live together with the child just for 4 months bc he was violent but he denied it when he got arrested. Now in court even if the process is for child arrangements only he admitted he was violent so I don't know if we could go further again with that proof plus a text threating the mother a couple.of months ago. They are in court for child arrangements and he stopped to pay maintainance. I am gonna marry the mother and I would like to give this kid my name, specially bc he thinks I'm the father and I'm the one maintaing him and loving him. Is there anything we could do? I think this would be very stressful for the kid when he get a bit older and start to understand.

Our Response:
If the father doesn't agree to the name change, then your fiance can either suggest mediation to her child's father and if he refuses, then she would have to apply to court for the court to make a decision what it thinks is in her child's best interests. You can see more via the link here .
SeparatedDads - 15-Jan-18 @ 9:54 AM
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