No simple answer on changing child's name without both parents' consent, says solicitor

21/08/2017 News Team

There is “no simple answer” when it comes to changing a child’s name, solicitor at law firm Coffin Mew has said of a judge’s ruling that a woman can get rid of her child’s middle name because of its association with a notorious public figure.

Bryan Scant said the most ‘straightforward situation’ in which a child’s names can be changed “is where all parties with parental responsibility consent to the change of name, in which case a simple change of name deed (often referred to as a deed poll) can be executed”.

However, in this specific case, the mother has been able to change her child’s middle name against the father’s wishes. Mr Scant described this as a “common situation” in which “you would have to ask the court to make an order, known as a specific issue order, allowing the child’s name to be changed”.

He added: “The court will take into consideration a variety of factors when considering a change of name deed with the primary concern being the child’s welfare and whether the proposed change is in the child’s best interests.” 

According to Mr Scant, it is not easy to obtain one of these orders, and the court “does take a strict approach when asked to make that decision”.  He continued: “A name is an intrinsic part of a child’s identity and often, enables a child to identify and feel part of their paternal family after a divorce or separation.  It is often when a mother has re-married or reverted to their maiden name that the question of the child’s name is raised.”

Mr Scant concluded: “The court will look very closely at the circumstances of the individual case – unless all those with parental responsibility agree, there is no simple answer as to whether a court will allow a child’s name to be changed and it will very much depend on the circumstances.”

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