Can I Change My Child's Name after Divorce?

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A child’s name can be changed after divorce by Deed Poll, but only if everyone who has Parental Responsibility for the child gives consent.

If you have Parental Responsibility, you have an input regarding the major decisions relating to your child’s life, such as where they go to school, whether they can be taken abroad, how they should be disciplined and what their legal name should be. So potentially, an ex-spouse may not allow you to change your child’s name after you get a divorce.

For initial advice please contact our Divorce Solicitors.

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Changing a Child's Name without the Other Parent's Consent

The Courts in England and Wales will take into account the amount and quality of contact that is being maintained between your child and the other parent. If your ex- spouse tends to have your child for around 2-3 days a week and is actively involved in their welfare and upbringing, then they will most likely be able to reverse a name change.

If the other parent doesn’t have a relationship with your child, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to reverse your child’s name change.

If the other parent does not have Parental Responsibility, but maintains regular contact, then they may be able to reverse the name change. The Courts will often consider the importance of your child maintaining a link with both parents.

Can I Stop My Child’s Name being Changed?

The only way to guarantee that the Deed Poll will be effective and cannot be reversed is if you get a Court Order called a Section 8 Order which gives you permission to do so. The Section 8 Order from the Court will also guarantee that your child's school, doctor and the passport office will use their new name. Our Family Law and Divorce Solicitors can help you apply for a Section 8 Order.

Don’t Know Where the Other Parent Is?

If you don’t know where the other parent is and want to get their consent before changing your child’s name, you’ll need to support your Deed Poll application with a letter stating that you’ve taken reasonable steps to contact the other parent. You must also include the time period that they have been absent from your child's life.

Changing a child’s last name can have a number of consequences, as a last name symbolises the physical cutting off of a potential parental figure in their lives.

Having a father or mother’s last name is a biological link to your child’s past, so a decision to change a child’s surname shouldn’t be taken lightly. Knowing your legal position is essential and will minimise disruptions to your child.

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