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I want to change my child's surname what shall I do?

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Changing a child’s surname may not be as easy as you think and will depend on many variables. However, our specialist team at Emery Johnson Astills can help you. 

A child’s name  must be registered within six weeks of the child’s  birth and this is the responsibility of the mother where the parents are unmarried and both parents if they are married. The mother will automatically acquire parental responsibility which encompasses all of the rights, duties, obligations and responsibilities relating to that child. If the biological father is not named on the child’s birth certificate he does not acquire parental responsibility. However, there are various ways in which a father can acquire parental responsibility. Please visit our website for further information and articles about parental responsibility and how to acquire it.

If both parents wish to change their child’s surname after registration they can do this by completing a change of name deed. However, if one parent does not consent to this and matters cannot be resolved an application to the Court may be required and this will depend on who has parental responsibility for the child and/or if there is an existing Court order in place.

For example, if there is an existing Child Arrangements Order in force regulating whom the child should live with a different Court application is needed to change the child’s surname and an application under section 13 Children Act 1989 would be required.

In all other cases an application for a Specific Issue Order should be sought. Essentially, you are asking the Court to determine a specific issue i.e. the surname of the child. When the Court is presented with such an application it will take into account relevant factors including the child’s welfare under the Children Act 1989 and whether it would be in the child’s best interests to change his/her surname in the circumstances. The interests of the child will be the Court’s paramount consideration.

The Court may also consider (in the circumstances) whether it is necessary to change a child’s surname to prevent the child from being associated with a particular person/group. The Court will also look at the relationship between the child and his/her parents and any significant events that have occurred.

It is important to note that this is not an exhaustive list and essentially the Court will look at all of the evidence carefully and will take a holistic view.

If you would like to discuss the issues raised in this article and/or would like advice and assistance please contact our Care and Family Law team at Emery Johnson Astills. You can contact our Leicester office on 0116 255 4855 and our Loughborough office on 0116 255 5044.