Changing a child’s surname: what’s the process?

Year Published: 2019

Changing a child’s surname is more common than you might think, particularly when parents are newly married, separated or were not married at the time of the birth. The process of changing a child’s surname varies depending on who’s involved and the arrangements which are in place.

The process if a child arrangements order is in place:

Where there is in place a child arrangements order in respect of the child, either the written consent of everyone who has parental responsibility is required, or there must be an order of the court obtained to change the child’s name.

The process if a child arrangements order isn’t in place: 

If there isn’t a child arrangements order, then those with parental responsibility must act in consultation with each other to agree the change.

Anita Scorah, Associate in Family Law at SAS Daniels

Anita Scorah, Associate in Family Law

Those who have parental responsibility will be:

  1. The mother automatically.
  1. The father if he was married to the mother or if he was registered on the child’s birth certificate after 1st December 2003.
  1. The father if he has signed a formal parental responsibility agreement with the mother.
  1. The father if he has been granted parental responsibility by virtue of a court order.

If only the mother has parental responsibility, the mother can act independently and can without consultation, change the child’s surname.

Once there is an agreement between all with parental responsibility, the change of name will need to be evidenced by a deed poll or statutory declaration exhibiting the written consent of all who have parental responsibility.

What if no agreement on changing a child’s surname can be made:

I have had parents in dispute regarding the change of their child’s surname, with the father wanting his name to remain as a connection between him and the child, the mother being concerned that in her new household, all had a common surname but this child and the child felt alienated from the family unit as a result. The impasse was resolved amicably by an agreement to double-barrel both surnames.

If you wish to have a statutory declaration drawn up to effect a change of name, contact Anita Scorah in our Family Law team on 01625 442123.

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