What’s in a name?

07 Mar 2019

It is a legal requirement that a child’s birth is registered within 42 days of his birth. You may well have already decided on your child’s first name before his birth, but what about surname and what if you subsequently want to change it?

If the mother is married or in a civil partnership
If the mother is married or in a civil partnership, her husband or civil partner is presumed to be the other parent and unless you agree otherwise, the baby will share the surname of you both.

The other parent will automatically share parental responsibility with the mother and the child’s name can only subsequently be changed if both parents provide their consent in writing or a Court Order allows the change of surname.

 

If the mother is unmarried and not in a civil partnership
If the mother is unmarried and not in a civil partnership, the other parent can only be registered on the birth certificate if he/she attends the registration and provides his/her consent. The baby will be registered with the surname as agreed between the parents.

If the other parent does not attend the registration, he/she will not be named on the birth certificate and the baby will be registered with the surname specified by the mother.

If the unmarried parent is registered on the birth certificate, he/she will automatically share parental responsibility with the mother and the child’s name can only subsequently be changed if both parents provide their consent in writing or a Court Order allows the change of surname.

The unmarried parent can also attain parental responsibility by entering into a formal Agreement with the mother or by Court Order. The child’s name can then only subsequently be changed if both parents provide their consent in writing or a Court Order allows the change of surname.

 

If both parents consent, how can we change our child’s surname?
If you agree to the change of the child’s surname, you can both execute a Change of Name Deed evidencing the change of the child’s surname.

 

How do I change the name without the consent of the other parent?
If the other parent has parental responsibility and will not consent to the change of the child’s surname, an application will need to be made to the Court for a Specific Issue Order.

If the other parent does not have parental responsibility, he/she does not need to provide their consent but they do retain the ability to object to a change of name and can ask the Court to make a Prohibited Steps Order preventing the change of name or a Specific Issue Order that the name is changed back. It is preferable therefore to inform the other parent of the proposed change and seek their written agreement.

 

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© Dawn Gore – Paralegal and Certified Family Law Assistant, Salisbury