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Children & Child Custody

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Changing a child's name

Changing a child's name

If you are looking for Child Law Advice in Guildford regarding how to change your child's name, usually as a result of a divorce or separation, then we have some helpful information for you.

Changing a child's name should not be a decision entered into lightly. You need to give some serious thought into the reasons you wish to go down this route and the implications, or consequences, to everyone involved before you decide to go ahead with this action. It is a big step to take and you need to take into careful consideration not just your feelings, but the feelings of everyone else affected by this potential change. These range from the other parent, whose feelings may be seriously affected if the child no longer has their name, the grandparents who may feel their role is being eroded, and many other relatives too. If your child is able to understand the situation, it is important that you discuss this with them and listen to their opinion on the matter. They should be listened to, as they may well have concerns over how it will affect their relationship with the other parent and whether they will feel more, or less secure. You should also bear in mind how they will explain the name change to other people, i.e. friends etc. Your decision now may have long term implications for everyone, so do not act in haste now only to regret it in a few years. Your child may even resent the decision in the future and wish to change it back.

If you have any child law advice Guildford queries regarding changing your child's name we are here to help. As experienced lawyers in this area we will be able to answer any questions you may have.

If you wish to go ahead and change your child's name then this can be done in several ways.

*You can informally change their name, for instance if you wish to start using their middle name as their given name, or use a nickname, then doing this informally would be sufficient.

*You can formally change their name by deed poll. A formal change would be required if you wish the new name to be on official documents, such as a passport etc. Also your child's school may well refuse to use the new name, unless it has been changed officially and have documented evidence to back this up.

*If your child is under the age of 16 then a parent can change their name by way of a deed poll. This is on the understanding that all persons with parental responsibility have given consent for the change.

Neither the child's Mother, or Father, is able to change the child's surname by themselves, unless they are the sole person with parental responsibility. However it is still advisable to discuss the name change with the other parent as good practise, as they still have the right to object.

Any formal application to change the child's name will usually only be successful if everyone with parental responsibility for the child has given their written consent to the change. The courts can either agree to the name change or they may issue a 'Specific Issue Order' stating that you cannot change the child's name. If you have a 'Residence Order' in place there will be an automatic clause written into it which states that the child's surname is unable to be changed without the written consent of all persons who have parental responsibility.

If you wish to change it as you have entered into a new marriage and wish for the whole family to have the same surname, you should be mindful that a family unit is not defined just by the family name, but in the interactions between you all, and the love, attitudes and relationships you show each other on a day to day basis.  It is far more socially acceptable in today's society to have families made up of several different surnames.

Changing a name by Deed poll is the formal way to obtain evidence of a change of name, however it will not change the name on the birth certificate. This is because a birth certificate is classed as an historic document that was correct at the time of registering the persons birth. If you have had your child's name changed by Deed poll you will be required to show the original birth certificate and the Deed poll to prove their identity. Birth certificates can only be changed in certain circumstances, see below:

*If the biological parents were not married to each other at the time of the birth and the Father did not register the child with the Mother, then it is possible to re-register the birth at any time in the future, to include the Father's details and to change the child's surname to that of the Father, if both parents give their consent. A new birth certificate would be issued and available for purchase.

*If the biological parents have married each other since the birth was registered then the birth can be re-registered to show this and the Mother and child's surnames can be changed to that of the Father. A new birth certificate would be issued and available for purchase.

*If the person registered as the Father is not the biological Father. In this case the General Register Office (GRO) would need to have evidence of paternity tests from one of their approved DNA laboratories, that the person registered is not the biological Father. However they will only have his details shown as being 'recorded in error' unless both biological parents agree. If both parents do agree then usually the GRO will allow the birth to be re-registered and the details amended. There are some exclusions to this. As expert Child law advice Guildford lawyers, we can talk you through this process and alleviate any fears and answer any questions you may have.

*If you have changed your gender and have obtained a Gender Recognition Certificate. You will need to be at least 18 years old, have gender dysphoria and been living as your preferred gender for a period of at least two years. You will then be applicable to apply to the Gender Recognition Panel for the Gender Recognition Certificate. This will enable you to obtain a new birth certificate showing your new gender and name.

If you obtain a new birth certificate this can be used as documentary evidence of your name change and you will therefore not require a Deed poll.

As experienced Child law advice solicitors in Guildford, we are here to help with any questions you may have surrounding this sensitive area. We have many years of experience in all areas of family law and will always treat you and your individual circumstances with professionalism and sensitivity.

Call us today on 01483 826470 and let us help you.

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