How Can I Change My Child's Name?
Can I change my child’s name?
A child’s name can be changed at any time before the age of 16 via a deed poll, provided the consent of everyone with parental responsibility is given. No “valid” reason for the name change is necessary. After the age of 16, a child can change their name without their parents consent, and their parents cannot change the child’s name without the child’s consent.
Changing a child’s birth certificate, however, is much more difficult as a birth certificate is considered as an official and historical record of someone's name at the time of their birth. This being said, there are still a few scenarios in which birth certificates can be amended and the name of a child can be changed.
What is a deed poll?
A deed poll is an official legal document which acts as an evidence of an individual’s name change. A person with parental responsibility can change any part of the child's name. For instance, a person with parental responsibility can change the forename, surname or both of the same, remove names, add names and even change the spelling of the name.
Please note that changing a child’s name via a deed poll and changing a child’s name on their birth certificate are two different processes.
Changing a child’s name via a Deed Poll
For a child who is not yet 16, every one with parental responsibility of the child should consent in order for the child’s name to be changed. There are, however, mitigating circumstances where a parent can apply for a Specific Issue Order. We will detail this later in the article.
The application form the name change is available on the official website of the UK Government (www.gov.uk) Here, you can find a document with guidance which provides the details of the application process.
Once the deed poll process is complete, all official records and documents can be changed to the new name. However, the birth certificate can still be used as a purpose for identification and should be presented alongside the deed poll certificate. This document will act as proof of the name change and will override the old name on the birth certificate.
Changing the Child’s Name on the Birth Certificate:
Amendment of a child’s first name
The first name of a child can be changed on the birth certificate if the parents are able to register for the child’s new name before the child becomes 12 months old.
This is only possible if the parents:
Have been regularly using a different first name for their child within 12 months of the birth being registered. The certificate to complete will be the “name not given in baptism form”
Had the child baptized within 12 months of the birth being registered, where the child was given a separate baptismal name. If the baptism occurred in a Christian church, the minister/vicar will have to complete a “name given in baptism form” certificate.
The parents will have to provide evidence of the baptism or that the new first name has been regularly used. The first name of the child can only be changed once on the birth certificate. The local register office can be contacted to do so.
Amendment of a child’s surname
The surname of a child can be changed if the birth of the child has been re-registered. A re-registration can be done with regard to child's name change in the following scenarios;
To record the name or details of the biological father of the child on the child’s birth certificate
To put the birth mother’s female partner onto the birth record, provided she is the legal parent whose name was not originally recorded
If the court has issued a declaration of parentage
After the civil partnership/marriage of the parents, provided they were not in a civil partnership/married at the time of the registration of the child’s birth
In terms of removing the father's name from the birth certificate, look at this article.
What is a “known as” name?
It is very important to be aware of the difference between a legal name and a "known as" name. The legal name of the child is the name mentioned on the birth certificate and is used for official, legal and administrative purposes.
The legal name of a child can be changed by changing the child’s birth certificate (in specific circumstances only) or via a deed poll.
GP's and Schools generally provide the option to register the "known as" name of the child, in addition to the legal name of the child.
The legal name will still be used for official documentation such as prescriptions, medical records and school records. A child’s "known as" name can only be used on unofficial documents. It is to be noted that teachers are able to use the child’s “known as” name when addressing them.
Who needs to consent in order to change a child’s name?
As mentioned earlier, the written consent of every person with parental responsibility is required in order to change the name of a child who is below 16 years old. The necessary documents will be drafted accordingly.
If everyone with parental responsibility of the child does not consent for the name change, you must apply for permission to change the name of your child to the court.
What can be done if consent is not provided to change a child’s name?
An application for a Specific Issue Order can be made to the court if everyone with parental responsibility does not consent to the child’s name change.
In that application, the applicant must demonstrate that the name change is in the best interest of the welfare of the child. The name of the child is considered as an essential part of his or her identity and thus, this kind of application is generally not considered lightly by the court.
If the court grants permission via specific Issue Order, a successful applicant can change the name of the child via a Deed Poll as explained earlier in the article.
What can be done if a person with parental responsibility is absent from the child’s life?
To change a child under 16’s name, the consent of everyone with parental responsibility is needed. However, if an absent parent has parental responsibility but their whereabouts are unknown, it is still possible for the name change to go through.
You will have to explain that the other parent is unreachable, and show the actions you have taken in order to attempt to contact them. (Eg. Contacting their friends and relatives or their last known address, provided it is safe.) If this name change application is via a deed poll, all of this information should be detailed in the “supporting statement” section.
Note: This article is not meant as legal advice and must not be treated as legal advice.