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Changing Your Child's Surname

By: Elizabeth Mugan BA/BSc, PGDipLaw, BVC, CIArb - Updated: 17 Jan 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]
Gretch - Your Question:
My husband has a child from another lady has never been part of the child life. Is registered as father on birth certificate. We pay child support. My husband nw wants to he mother of child to change it to her surname as things a very complicates and we not allowed to see the child or get any info of the child. Will he be allowed to get the surname changed as they where not living partners or married partners. It was just a hook up that ended in pregnancy.

Our Response:
It is highly unlikely a court will force a resident parent to change their child's surname, if the resident parent doesn't wish to.
SeparatedDads - 18-Jan-17 @ 11:38 AM
My husband has a child from another lady has never been part of the child life. Is registered as father on birth certificate. We pay child support. My husband nw wants to he mother of child to change it to her surname as things a very complicates and we not allowed to see the child or get any info of the child. Will he be allowed to get the surname changed as they where not living partners or married partners. It was just a hook up that ended in pregnancy.
Gretch - 17-Jan-17 @ 5:21 PM
Magee - Your Question:
My child father refuses to change the surname of my child to other surname that I'm using now. I tried to talk to him he said no, now I'm stressed I don't know what to do cause my husband want my child to use his surname place help

Our Response:
As suggested in the article, if your ex refuses the change, you would have to take the matter to court. A court will always decide upon what it thinks is in your child's best interests.
SeparatedDads - 5-Dec-16 @ 2:10 PM
My child father refuses to change the surname of my child to other surnamethat I'm using now. I tried to talk to him he saidno, now I'm stressedI don'tknow what to do cause my husband want my child to use his surname place help
Magee - 5-Dec-16 @ 9:52 AM
I learnt frm fb tht my wife has remarried while am in jail,can she change my daughter's surname without my permission
kuch - 18-Nov-16 @ 10:33 PM
Can my x change my daughter's surname while am in jail without my consent
kuch - 18-Nov-16 @ 10:28 PM
@kevo - I know this - she change the surname unofficially through school/GP etc without having your consent. Or if you say no to her changing it through deed poll and she doesn't have any contact with you she would have to apply through the court. C.
Charls89 - 17-Nov-16 @ 9:57 AM
Am in jail and my x has remarried,does she has regal rights to change my daughter's surname without my consent
kevo - 16-Nov-16 @ 12:33 AM
Chits - Your Question:
My ex wants to change my child's surname but I have refused and I am on the birth certificate but we were not married. She says she has changed it at the school as she don't need my permission to do this. How do I stand legally when contacting the school to inform them I'm not happy with this and I want it put back to her actual surname? Can I make them do this? My ex has done this without my consent and I have contact with the school and am on all her school documentation.

Our Response:
While you can refuse permission for your ex to change your child's surname by Deed Poll, you have no specific rights if your ex wishes to change your child's surname informally. You would have to seek legal advice if you wanted to try to prevent this through court, but it doesn't mean the court would necessarily rule in your favour.
SeparatedDads - 30-Sep-16 @ 11:42 AM
My ex wants to change my child's surname but I have refused and I am on the birth certificate but we were not married. She says she has changed it at the school as she don't need my permission to do this. How do I stand legally when contacting the school to inform them I'm not happy with this and I want it put back to her actual surname? Can I make them do this? My ex has done this without my consent and I have contact with the school and am on all her school documentation.
Chits - 29-Sep-16 @ 2:35 PM
i apply to change my mothers surname to my father's surname on April this year n i only got one sms saying my request is accepted n still i never got my ID back.How many months does it takes to be ready?
Mazandy - 21-Sep-16 @ 2:51 PM
Gw - Your Question:
Hi,would like to know.I got married to my wife and she got two sons on her side.My problem is that they are still young and we would like to change there surnames cause they don't know their father.Me and my wife don't want the children to ask questions when they get older why they have a different surname.Can you plz help.

Our Response:
Your wife would have to ask consent from her ex (if he is contactable). If he isn't and there is no way of being able to find him to request consent, then your wife would be able to apply through the courts and the court would make a decision based upon what it thought was in her childrens' best interests. If your wife can contact her ex and he refuses, then she would have the option to take the matter to court and the court would make the decision.
SeparatedDads - 13-Sep-16 @ 10:12 AM
Hi,would like to know.I got married to my wife and she got two sons on her side.My problem is that they are still young and we would like to change there surnames cause they don't know their father....Me and my wife don't want the children to ask questions when they get older why they have a different surname.Can you plz help......
Gw - 12-Sep-16 @ 6:37 AM
Me and my partner have been together since 2008. And living together since. We have another child with my surname and I have another son also with my surname. My partners ex has not had contact ever nor his family and I mean not attempted too. He makes small £30.00 payments every month if hisworking. He now wants to have the same surname as his brother and sister. His birth certificate is Spanish as this is where he was born and his real dad left before he was ever born. I don't know if as he has a Spanish certificate if the law is the same in terms of changing? If not what do I need to do as he is asking more and I believe starting to affect him
Curt79 - 2-Sep-16 @ 8:16 PM
Hi there please can you offer some advice? My son wishes to change his surname to my name, currently it is double barrelled with his fathers who is on the Birth certificate, his dad has not had contact in over 6 years and I do not know where he is, contact was suspended by the family court and he was not showing up to contact and was using drugs and was in prison ... Yet again!! If I change is name via a court order do you think I would be successful? My son is 12 and very capable and he has requested this change? Also how long does it take? Will I have to go to court? Will they try and locate his dad?
Macey - 26-Aug-16 @ 6:16 PM
Hi! I need your advise and what requirements do i need to process? I am a mother of a 4year old girl. She carried the family of her father, even we are not married he carried thru his consent before coz his giving support to our daughter from birth till 1year old. We allowed to carry his family name thru his consent and his valid id's and power of attoryney's requirements. When he go back to syria almost 3 yrs he never send any supports and he cannot come back anymore coz he get married and the situation of syria is very worst. Now i have fiance from USA. We will get married by next year. I want before our married she can carrymy fiance's family name. My fiance decided to adopt her so she can feel she's part of the family and if she start studying there she will not encounter bullying. What do i need to prepare for adopting my child with my new husband to be. We are not yet married and we are engaged here in dubai. Coz now his processing my fiance's visa. What requirements do we need to bring before we can file and process? How much do it cost? How many months it will take?We need your answers as we decide to go home in Philippines by december. Thank you and God bless us all
Lyn - 21-Aug-16 @ 12:23 PM
My child has my stepdad surname because the father don't want any thing to do with the child. I've met a new guy when my child was 5months old. This guy is the only father that my child knows. After 3 years my stepdad still doesn't want to let me change my child's surname to this guy's surname. We will be married soon. Can someone please give me advice.
mariska - 11-Aug-16 @ 8:10 PM
Sam84- Your Question:
Hi there, I'm hoping someone can give me advise. I have a 9 year old son by an ex partner-never married. He was very abusive throughout are relationship and was arrested for assaulting me and threatening to kill me in front of our son when he was two. We have on occasions had periods where we are civil for our sons sake but he is often verbally abusive still towards myself and my family. He is not at all a hands on dad and doesn't co parent in any way and only sees my son at his convenience. He has had numerous partners since we split and always puts his social life before our son. His family also make no attempts to play active roles and even fail to send him birthday cards etc. Anyway the problem I'm having is my son desperately wants to change his surname to mine and has been asking for almost two years. He says he can't understand why he has his dad's family name when he doesn't really know any of them. I have two other children and he desperately wants to be the same as his siblings. My son has a diagnosis of ADHD and anxiety. He is often teased by peers about his surname(Bird) this adds to his existing problems. He is moving schools in September to the same school his brother will be starting in reception. (He doesn't want more teasing) I have asked his dad if he can be known as my surname just within the school as a preferred surname. He told me to F off!!! He will not consider my sons feelings. Is my son old enough to be listened to if I applied for a change of surname through the courts? His dad has threatened to go in the school and show me up if I just change it. I know I need his permission to deed poll but the new school told me today he is allowed a preferred surname to make school life easier and for him to be the same as his brother. Will I be doing wrong if I go ahead as its only for within the school community? Please help, I'm very frightened of my ex, he causes me a great deal of upset regularly.(I sought advise from a solicitor recently for help with a non molestaion order but couldn't afford the fees and as he hasn't hurt me in 6 years just being abusive wasn't enough-calling me the c word and saying he hopes I die a terrible death) He is a huge let down to my son, only ever attended one parents evening!! he has a long criminal record, was arrested last October and wasn't in when my son arrived on the Saturday because he was being held! He has Recently taken his new girlfriend and her son on holiday but this weekend refused to collect my son as the cab fair is too expensive! Any advise you could give me would be much appreciated. Many thanks

Our Response:
If you wish to change your child's name officially, then you can do so via a court order (if your ex refuses to give consent and the court agrees). I can't imagine why the court wouldn't agree, as the court will always rule in the best interests of the child and uniformity with his other siblings would be a big consideration. In the meantime, you will be within your rights to use the preferred surname and there is little your ex could do. If he threatens you, you can report any threatening behaviour to the police.
SeparatedDads - 22-Jul-16 @ 12:32 PM
King Kong- Your Question:
I have change my kids names by deed poll after there dad pass away they have the same surname as me be new partner would like the kids to take his surname as we are getting married what do we have to do

Our Response:
You would have to apply through Deed Poll agin if you wanted your children's names changed officially. However, if you wanted the children to use your new husband's name unofficially, they could begin using it informally i.e through school/GP etc. But this would mean their official surname would still be their fathers.
SeparatedDads - 22-Jul-16 @ 11:53 AM
It needs both parents consent. But the child can seek advice himself through councilingor potentially CAB
Toothie - 21-Jul-16 @ 9:12 PM
Hi there, I'm hoping someone can give me advise. I have a 9 year old son by an ex partner-never married. He was very abusive throughout are relationship and was arrested for assaulting me and threatening to kill me in front of our son when he was two. We have on occasions had periods where we are civil for our sons sake but he is often verbally abusive still towards myself and my family.He is not at all a hands on dad and doesn't co parent in any way and only sees my son at his convenience. He has had numerous partners since we split and always puts his social life before our son. His family also make no attempts to play active roles and even fail to send him birthday cards etc. Anyway the problem I'm having is my son desperately wants to change his surname to mine and has been asking for almost two years. He says he can't understand why he has his dad's family name when he doesn't really know any of them. I have two other children and he desperately wants to be the same as his siblings. My son has a diagnosis of ADHD and anxiety. He is often teased by peers about his surname(Bird) this adds to his existing problems. He is moving schools in September to the same school his brother will be starting in reception. (He doesn't want more teasing) I have asked his dad if he can be known as my surname just within the school as a preferred surname. He told me to F off!!! He will not consider my sons feelings. Is my son old enough to be listened to if I applied for a change of surname through the courts? His dad has threatened to go in the school and show me up if I just change it. I know I need his permission to deed poll but the new school told me today he is allowed a preferred surname to make school life easier and for him to be the same as his brother. Will I be doing wrong if I go ahead as its only for within the school community? Please help, I'm very frightened of my ex, he causes me a great deal of upset regularly.(I sought advise from a solicitor recently for help with a non molestaion order but couldn't afford the fees and as he hasn't hurt me in 6 years just being abusive wasn't enough-calling me the c word and saying he hopes I die a terrible death) He is a huge let down to my son, only ever attended one parents evening!! he has a long criminal record, was arrested last October and wasn't in when my son arrived on the Saturday because he was being held! He hasRecently taken his new girlfriend and her son on holiday but this weekend refused to collect my son as the cab fair is too expensive! Any advise you could give me would be much appreciated. Many thanks
Sam84 - 20-Jul-16 @ 11:48 PM
I have change my kids names by deed poll after there dad pass away they have the same surname as me be new partner would like the kids to take his surname as we are getting married what do we have to do
King Kong - 20-Jul-16 @ 2:40 PM
dobbo- Your Question:
Doester changing the surname effecthe any benefits ie child ben,or child tax etc.

Our Response:
No, a change of your child's surname would not affect your benefits.
SeparatedDads - 19-Jul-16 @ 2:19 PM
Doester changing the surname effecthe any benefits ie child ben,or child tax etc..
dobbo - 19-Jul-16 @ 9:00 AM
Thulz - Your Question:
Hi im a single mother who's unemployed, I have a partner who's intending to marry me. He supports my daughter who's 7years old old, he wants to adopt her legally but she is using her dad's surname who passed away 5years ago.please help

Our Response:
Please see gov.uk link here which gives more information on adoption. Plus, you will be able to change your daughter's name by Deed Poll, if your ex has passed away.
SeparatedDads - 7-Jul-16 @ 11:26 AM
Hi im a single mother who's unemployed, i have a partner who's intending to marry me. He supports my daughter who's 7years old old, he wants to adopt her legally but she is using her dad's surname who passed away 5years ago.please help
Thulz - 6-Jul-16 @ 12:27 PM
hi my name is divine...I am married..I want to change my daughters surname to my second husband surname.....my child carrying the fathers surname but we didn't married..her father didn't give support but he refused to change my child surname..my second husband and I supporting my child...what can i do? i need advice s
venus - 25-Jun-16 @ 5:04 PM
Mirela - Your Question:
Hi, I'm married and I have a daughter, but she is not my husband's child, the biological father has never been involve in her life, and on her birth certificate she has his surname. I have changed her father surname with mine via Deed Pool,before I got married, so now I want her to have my married surname since my husband is the one in her life, what can I do?

Our Response:
Please see Deed Poll site here which will give you more information.
SeparatedDads - 22-Jun-16 @ 11:23 AM
Hi, I'm married and I have a daughter, but she is not my husband's child, the biological father has never been involve in her life, and on her birth certificate she has his surname. I have changed her father surname with mine via Deed Pool,before I got married, so now I want her to have my married surname since my husband is the one in her life, what can I do?
Mirela - 21-Jun-16 @ 2:45 PM
sweetmint_11 - Your Question:
Hello.i need some advice.My son is turning 7 years old, I want to change his surname to mine. His father don't give any support or even visit him for years.what should I do? I don't even know my son's father where about. Can I change it even without his consent? Thank you in advance.

Our Response:
As specified in the article, it may be possible for a mother to change her child's surname by Deed Poll without the consent of a father (who has parental responsibility) who is absent and his whereabouts is not known, please see link here .
SeparatedDads - 20-Jun-16 @ 3:02 PM
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