Can I change my child’s name following separation or divorce?
To change your child’s name you’ll need the written consent of all individuals who have Parental Responsibility (PR) for a child. A mother will always have PR for a child. A father will automatically have PR if he is married to the mother.
If the father is not married to the mother then he can acquire PR if he is named on the child’s birth certificate after 1 December 2003, or by entering into a PR written agreement with the mother, or a court order.
What can I do if the child’s father refuses to change our child’s name?
Under section 8 of the Children Act 1989, you can apply to the family court for a Specific Issue Order. In your application, you will need to explain why you are making the application, for example, if you would like the child to be known by the same surname of a new spouse. If the child’s father opposes the application then you will need to convince the judge that your motivation for the name change application is not to reduce the role of the child’s father but that it is in the child’s best interests. Alternatively, a father can oppose an application on the basis that he believes that the mother is trying to marginalise his role in the child’s life.
Often a mother will retain her married name following divorce so that she has the same surname of her child(ren).