How do I change my child’s name?
You can change your child’s name at any time, as long as they’re under the age of 16. You don’t have to have a specific or valid reason for doing so, but anyone who has parental responsibility for that child must agree to the change of name.
Once your child is aged 18, or is over 16 and married, they can change their own name using deed poll, however, there are some situations where they’ll need the consent of everyone with parental responsibility.
Why would you want to change your child’s name?
It may become necessary to change a child’s name for several reasons, such as:
- The child is named after a parent who was violent or abusive, or no longer has an active role in their life;
- You have safety or protection concerns over the well-being of your child if they were to retain their present legal name;
- You or your partner would like all immediate family members to have the same name; or
- It’s in the best interests or is preferred by the child in question.
Although it’s easy to simply start using a new name for your child, this informal method is not legally recognised. In order to make this change formal, i.e. for official documents such as passports or birth certificates, a specific process needs to be followed, which we have outlined below.
Anyone with parental responsibility need to consent to the change
Parental responsibility refers to all the rights, duties and powers that a parent has in relation to a child. This is automatically granted to the biological mother of the child and the child’s father if he is named on the child’s birth certificate or married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth. Other parties may also be granted parental responsibility by Court Order.
What if I can’t obtain consent?
If you cannot obtain the consent of any individual that holds parental responsibility over the child, then you can apply to the Family Court to obtain a Specific Issue Order for the name change. Once the order has been obtained, the deed poll process must be followed. Our family law experts can provide further advice with regard to the court process and your individual case.
What is the deed poll process for minors?
The HM Courts & Tribunals Service have provided a pack (L0C019) which outlines the name change process for both adults and children, and includes a checklist of all necessary forms which you need to complete.
A court fee of £36 is payable and you will be required to complete several forms in support of your application, including drafting a deed poll to confirm the change of name. These documents then need to be sent to the Queen’s Bench Division in order to seal the deed poll. This is the legal document evidencing the change of name, which may be requested by bodies such as the passport office, doctor or school.
Additionally, a notice of the change of name will be published in the London Gazette. When an adult wishes to change their name, they do not need the approval of the court to effect the change, and therefore the process is much more simple.
If you’re considering changing your child’s name and would like advice in drafting the relevant documents, our expert family solicitors can help. Call us on 0117 322 6602 or fill out our online enquiry form to get in touch.