Having a Child's Surname Changed Post-Separation

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Parents often attach great emotional significance to the surname their offspring use after separation. It is not uncommon for a parent to want to change their child’s surname or to prevent the other parent from using a different surname for their child.

How do I change my child’s surname?

If both parents are recorded on the child’s birth certificate, the child’s surname can only be changed with the agreement of both parents or by Court Order. Parents can still refer to their child by a different surname but the other parent can apply for an order restraining this action.

What if we can’t agree?

The Court has the power to make an order it considers appropriate in determining the best interests of a child. This can include ordering parents to apply to change the child’s birth certificate or permitting a parent to use a different surname for the child.

How does the Court determine the matter?

The Court has to balance a number of factors for and against the change of name, including the short and long term effects, the effect any change will have on the relationship between the child and both parents, any confusion of identity which may arise for the child and the degree of identification the child has with both parents.