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Changing Your Child's Surname

By: Elizabeth Mugan BA/BSc, PGDipLaw, BVC, CIArb - Updated: 18 Feb 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]
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
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 Idon't know if we couldgo 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.
Diegorolo - 14-Jan-18 @ 2:36 AM
tony - Your Question:
My ex I left want change the boys surname I pay child maintenance see the boys twice a month her new husband how to change the surname to his at school can this happen

Our Response:
The resident parent of your child, can change your child's name unofficially (i.e through schools or GP etc). However, as specified in the article, if you have parental responsibility of your child, your ex would have to request your permission to change your child's name officially, please see link here for further information.
SeparatedDads - 9-Jan-18 @ 11:35 AM
my ex I left want change the boyssurnameI pay child maintenancesee the boys twice a month her new husband how to change the surname to his at school can this happen
tony - 8-Jan-18 @ 6:34 PM
@MamaE - If you are in the UK (usually births are registered after the birth, not at the time of), then you would have to ask the named father for consent. If he doesn't give it, you would have to apply to court.
MarkGG - 21-Dec-17 @ 10:20 AM
The father listed on my 4year olds birth certificate is not the father . At the time both my ex and I believed he was the father . He wanted my son to have his last name . I wanted my son to have my last name since him and I were not married . While in the hospital o had a c section and was given morphine . So the whole time I was groggy pretty much . While I was asleep he put my sons name down on paper . I woke up and was told to sign papers being a first time mother I signed it LATER realizing he put his last name and not mine. I wasn't really upset but I did have a preference of my last name . A week later my sons features started to develop and he did not look like my ex . I told him , instead he looked like my (friend at the time) since then I've never asked him for any money and favors or any father responsibilities from him . My sons biological father has been fathering him since 3weeks of birth and has been a GREAT father . I want to remove the father listed on the birth certificate and add my now husband his biological father and change my sons last name .Would I have to have my ex's consent ? Can I show my marriage license to change his last name and add biological father to the BC? Or would a DNA test be required
MamaE - 20-Dec-17 @ 4:35 AM
Skittles - Your Question:
I'm a person who as never writen down my feelings for help for advise on how to deal with my problems before. Please bear with me to try to explain my situation on how I feel and what situation I'm in for me to ask for your help???? I'm a single parent from day one when I found out I was pregnant I told the father I was pregnant On the same day He told me he was back with his exWhen I delivered Maisie he came to hospital to believe Maisie was hisMaisie was my world from this day The father saw Maisie once a week until he changed his girlfriend The father only saw Maisie when he liked we are not married and never together when Maisie was born Do I mother of Maisie have the right to change Maisie name without consent of the father???

Our Response:
If you registered your ex as the father on the birth certificate, then it means he has 'parental responsibility' in which case you would have to request his consent, please see the link here, for more advice. If he is not registered on the birth certificate, then you can change your daughter's name without his consent.
SeparatedDads - 11-Dec-17 @ 12:29 PM
I'm a person who as never writen down my feelings for help for advise on how to deal with my problems before. Please bear with me to try to explain my situation on how I feel and what situation I'm in for me to ask for your help???? I'm a single parent from day one when I found out I was pregnant I told the father I was pregnant On the same day He told me he was back with his ex When I delivered Maisie he came to hospital to believe Maisie was his Maisie was my world from this day The father saw Maisie once a week until he changed his girlfriend The father only saw Maisie when he liked we are not married and never together when Maisie was born Do I mother of Maisie have the right to change Maisie name without consent of the father???
Skittles - 9-Dec-17 @ 11:50 PM
Nat - Your Question:
I have a 4 year old. I want to change his surname to the same as mines and his brother. My child has contact with his dad. We never lived as a family for long (10 weeks) due to domestic violence. He was only given his surname as my ex threatened me. I don’t want my child to feel he’s different or excluded especially when my other child starts at the same school. Would the courts grant the name change.

Our Response:
If your ex will not consent to the name change, then you would have to apply to court. However, it is likely the court would allow this on the basis of family uniformity. Until you choose to change your son's name by Deed Poll, you can request your local GP and son's school (when he starts) allow him to use his new family name unofficially.
SeparatedDads - 14-Nov-17 @ 12:13 PM
I have a 4 year old. I want to change his surname to the same as mines and his brother.My child has contact with his dad. We never lived as a family for long (10 weeks) due to domestic violence. He was only given his surname as my ex threatened me. I don’t want my child to feel he’s different or excluded especially when my other child starts at the same school. Would the courts grant the name change.
Nat - 13-Nov-17 @ 10:28 AM
E - Your Question:
Sorry I did post this down line but never had directed reply so. Hi I have 2 children with my ex partner we was never married but lived together for 4 years. He is on the 2 childrens birth certificate but the children have my last name. Now I have been with my current partner over 6 years now we have had 2 children together. there also my last name. But we want to get married and want all children have same name. He has had no contact nothing side splitting we have had lots of abuse of himself and his family but nothing sorting out. We don't receive any money never had. Where do I stand thank you

Our Response:
You would still have to ask your children's father permission to change his chidlren's surname. If he refuses, then you would have to make a court application. If your ex only has occasional contact with his children and for the sake of 'uniformity' of name, then it is likely the court would grant permission. Please see the Deed Poll link here for more information.
SeparatedDads - 3-Nov-17 @ 11:33 AM
Sorry I did post this down line but never had directed reply so... Hi I have 2 children with my ex partner we was never married but lived together for 4 years . He is on the 2 childrens birth certificate but the children have my last name . Now I have been with my current partner over 6 years now we have had 2 children together .. there also my last name . But we want to get married and want all children have same name . He has had no contact nothing side splitting we have had lots of abuse of himself and his family but nothing sorting out . We don't receive any money never had . Where do I stand thank you
E - 2-Nov-17 @ 6:48 PM
Khug - Your Question:
My son is 7 soon, from my previous relationship, I've since married and had another son. He's sees his dad and step mum 2 times a week, I can talk to his step mum about most things we regularly go out together to she's more of a Friend, his dad. well its strained since he attacked my now husband.My son has recently started crying that he's different from us, it break my heart, he asks why can't his little brother me and his step dad have a name like him, I've explained as best I can why they have different names and why I do and his step dad does. It actually makes him worse :,( This has been going on for a month Now, every day he asks if he has step dad's name yet. I've asked him out right do you really want it and he's pretty addimant that it's what he wants, he gets literally hysterical about it. So I thought I could add on my new surname to his, double barrel?? But I have a feeling his dad is going to be difficult and have no idea how I even address this with him, any advice? I really want to keep this out of court because I feel it will tarnish the already strained coparenting we have going. He used to be so amicable we both were but the past year has been hellish with him.

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. If your son is genuinely upset, then you should either attempt to speak to his dad about the matter, and if you cannot agree between you, request he attends mediation. Perhaps, you could take the emphasis from yourself and say to his dad that it is no attempt to usurp his parenthood, but it is at the request of your son. Most courts would allow a change of name if it fits in with family uniformity. 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. Hopefully it won't come to this and mutual negotiation may help. However, if your ex dislikes your current partner, he may quite obviously object. Reminding him, that it is not about the adults, but your child may help. In addition, you can use your name unofficially i.e in school etc without your ex's permission.
SeparatedDads - 16-Oct-17 @ 12:33 PM
My son is 7 soon, from my previous relationship, I've since married and had another son. He's sees his dad and step mum 2 times a week, I can talk to his step mum about most things we regularly go out together to she's more of a Friend, his dad... well its strained since he attacked my now husband. My son has recently started crying that he's different from us, it break my heart, he asks why can't his little brother me and his step dad have a name like him, I've explained as best I can why they have different names and why I do and his step dad does. It actually makes him worse :,( This has been going on for a month Now, every day he asks if he has step dad's name yet. I've asked him out right do you really want it and he's pretty addimant that it's what he wants, he gets literally hysterical about it. So I thought I could add on my new surname to his, double barrel?? But I have a feeling his dad is going to be difficult and have no idea how I even address this with him, any advice? I really want to keep this out of court because I feel it will tarnish the already strained coparenting we have going. He used to be so amicable we both were but the past year has been hellish with him.
Khug - 15-Oct-17 @ 9:49 AM
Hi I have 2 children with my ex partner we was never married but lived together for 4 years . He is on the 2 childrens birth certificate but the children have my last name . Now I have been with my current partner over 6 years now we have had 2 children together .. there also my last name . But we want to get married and want all children have same name . He has had no contact nothing side splitting we have had lots of abuse of himself his family but nothing sorting out . We don't receive any money never had . Where do I stand thank you
E - 16-Sep-17 @ 7:27 PM
Mum2071 - Your Question:
Hi my daughter has just turned 8 she has had my surname since birth but her father recently got married and is going on wanting her name changed to match his and his new family. He has brainwashed our daughter into thinking she wants this too but I don't want to change. I'm not sure what to do in this situation thanks

Our Response:
If your child is living with the father, then it stands to reason the father might want family uniformity. You can see more via the Deed Poll link here. However, if you have parental responsibility of your child, your ex has to request your permission to change your child's name. If you refuse, he would have to apply to court.
SeparatedDads - 5-Sep-17 @ 3:12 PM
Hi my daughter has just turned 8 she has had my surname since birth but her father recently got married and is going on wanting her name changed to match his and his new family. He has brainwashed our daughter into thinking she wants this too but I don't want to change. I'm not sure what to do in this situation thanks
Mum2071 - 3-Sep-17 @ 9:14 PM
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
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