A common question we get asked by Mums is ‘can I change my child’s name when dad has parental responsibility?’ The answer is that ‘it’s possible’, especially if dad has no relationship with the child, his whereabouts are unknown, and you have made every effort to make contact.
Before we launch into the legalities of changing a child’s name, it’s important to understand that the Court does not take name change applications lightly. A child’s name is considered to be a core aspect of their identity and changes can have a significant impact.
One of the first questions we will ask you as a family law firm – bearing in mind the best interests of your child/children, which is ultimately what matters – is ‘what is the reason for changing the child’s name?’
Provided there is genuine cause for altering a child’s name, here’s what the process will involve if you do have parental responsibility (PR).
If dad is absent from your child/children’s life, it’s possible to change your child’s/children’s names by deed poll.
What you should be aware of is that restrictions may apply when using the change of name if it’s done without the permission of each person that has parental responsibility (PR) or without the consent of the Court. For example, the UK passport office would be very strict about the use of a changed name.
If the father plays no active part in your child/children’s life, you will have a stronger case in Court. Therefore, making an application to the Court to change a child’s name is likely to be the best option for you.
If you make an application to the Court, you would have been expected to attempt contact with the father to notify them that you are changing your child’s/children’s names. The matter would go to Court if the father contested the name change.
If you have already changed a child’s name, and the father doesn’t have PR, they can apply to the Court for a ‘Specific Issue Order’, with a view to having the name change reversed.
Changing a child’s name by deed poll
Changing a child’s name by deed poll is easier if you have parental responsibility as you can change any part of their name, whether it be their first name, surname, or both. You can add names, remove names and change the spelling if you so wish.
However, if you don’t have PR, and the father is absent, it’s still possible to secure a name change – but there is no guarantee. What we can say is that you have a stronger case. For more information on getting a child’s name changed without PR, talk to one of our team.
What if the father opposes the name change?
Should the father oppose a name change and you don’t have PR, things can be a little trickier. You can apply to the Court for a Specific Issue Order. However, the onus is then on you to prove that the name change is in the best interests of your child in accordance with a welfare checklist under Section 8 of the 1989 Children Act.
If your application is successful, you can pursue a name change for your child/children by way of deed poll.
Get advice on changing your child’s name
Altering a child’s name can be a hugely sensitive issue, setting off all kinds of emotions.
Holland Family Law partners with you to help you resolve, what will be a highly emotive situation, constructively and amicably.
For such matters, there is no substitute for speaking to a specialist family lawyer, who can give you realistic advice, manage your expectations and guide you in how best to pursue your case.
Holland Family Law Leicester is an independent firm that has helped hundreds of people successfully navigate challenging family issues. Offering an empathetic and personalised service means that we’re recognised as one of the top family law firms in Leicester.
With a free 30-minute consultation and fixed fees available in most cases, we make family legal advice easily accessible and affordable.