How do I change my child’s name?
You can change your child’s name at any time, as long as they are under the age of 18. 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.
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 is 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. To make this change formal, i.e. for official documents such as passports or birth certificates, a specific process needs to be followed.
How do I change my child’s name?
To change the name of a child under 18 you can either:
- Make an unenrolled deed poll by using a specialist deed poll agency or a family solicitor; or
- Apply for an enrolled deed poll from the Royal Courts of Justice
Some organisations will only accept an enrolled deed poll as proof of a child’s name change. For example, if you wish to change the name on their passport, you will need an enrolled deed poll.
What is the deed poll process for children?
The HM Courts & Tribunals Service has provided a pack (L0C019) that 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 £42.44 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.
Anyone with parental responsibility needs 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 using either a parental responsibility agreement or Court Order.
What if I can’t obtain consent for changing my child’s name?
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. It costs £215 to apply for this type of order.
Once the order has been obtained, the deed poll process must be followed. Our family law solicitors can provide further advice about the court process and your individual case.
Does a child need to consent to a name change?
If your child is under 16, they do not need to consent to the name change. However, the welfare of the child should be the main priority, so if they were really against the idea it would be helpful to think about whether the name change is really in their best interests.
It should also be noted that, once a child is 16, they can make their own unenrolled deed poll, and when they are 18 they can make their own enrolled deed poll. If it seems likely they would do this, it might not be advisable to change their name in the first place.
Children who are aged 16 or 17 can change their name back using an unenrolled deed poll (and when they turn 18 by enrolled deed poll) if they did not agree with this decision.
Contact our family lawyers in Bristol
If you’re considering changing your child’s name and would like advice on 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.