There are few occasions when a parent may wish to change a child’s name, but they do occur and there are strict legal rules on how this may be carried out.
Married parents will normally register both their own names on the birth certificate, and the child will take the name of the father unless the parents decide otherwise. Unmarried parents must agree to enter the father’s name; otherwise the mother’s name is the preferred option.
If a divorce occurs children retain their given surname, but their name can be changed. It is important to understand that an individual parent cannot change a child’s surname when they enter into a new partnership without full parental consent.
Advice on the appropriate procedure can be found at the government’s own website.
A deed poll is the document which confirms a change of name. For a child under the age of 18 their name can be enrolled in court; aged 16 or 17 they can elect to make their own application.
Once a deed poll change has been executed it is unlikely that a birth certificate will also be amended other than in special circumstances, including registering the father’s details, a female partner who does not appear on the certificate but who has parental responsibility, or when biological parents marry after the birth was registered or a civil partnership is entered into.
It is advisable to seek legal advice if you wish to change a name. In a legal centre such as Manchester solicitors will be able to offer advice and can be found at sites such as Manchester solicitors.
Advice may be needed if there is a dispute between the biological parents about the change of name. The court will always give priority to the best interests of the child, and this will influence whether a change of name will be allowed. Given the importance of a surname and how it represents an integral part of a child’s identity the court will look closely at any dispute.
Once the Family Court has approved a change of name the successful applicant can move forward and change names with a deed poll application.
The consent of a parent who cannot be located can be waived by the court if all reasonable attempts have been made to locate them.