Family law Chester name change

Family Law Solicitors Chester - Name Changes

In family law in Chester, the issue of changing a child’s surname post-divorce or remarriage often arises. While a parent may wish to change their surname and potentially their child’s to reflect new family dynamics, there are specific legal considerations to be aware of.

Legal Restrictions on Changing a Child’s Surname

Under English family law, certain restrictions apply to changing a child’s surname:

  1. Parental Surname Change: You cannot change your child’s surname solely because you have changed yours.
  2. Consent Requirement: Changing a child’s surname requires the permission of anyone else with Parental Responsibility.
  3. Child’s Consent: If the child is over 16, their consent is necessary for the name change.

If an unmarried father lacks Parental Responsibility, his approval is not required for the name change.

Process of Changing a Child’s Surname

Family law solicitors in Chester can facilitate the process of changing your child’s name. If all parties with Parental Responsibility agree, the change can be made by Deed Poll. This formal document legally alters the child’s name and is necessary for updating official records like passports and school enrolment.

The Deed Poll application involves a witness statement and signatures from those with Parental Responsibility, affirming the change benefits the child and is not intended to deceive or harm them.

Court Intervention in Disputes

If someone with Parental Responsibility objects to the name change, the matter can be taken to court. The court will consider the child’s best interests, such as familial unity in a household where the child is the only one with a different surname, or protection in cases where the objecting parent has no direct contact rights.

Children who are old enough can also express their objections to a name change in court.

Children’s Rights in Name Changes

At 18, a child can change their name by Deed Poll without parental consent. Until then, even if they can express their wishes, the agreement of all with Parental Responsibility is required.

Adoption and Name Changes

Upon adoption, a child’s surname automatically changes to that of their adoptive parents, eliminating the need for a Deed Poll. An adoption certificate replaces the birth certificate, although the child can access their original birth certificate at 18.

Considering the Child’s Perspective

It’s important to remember that sharing a surname is not the sole determinant of a family bond. Consider the potential future impact on the child’s relationship with their extended family and their feelings towards the name change.

For expert guidance on child name changes in family law in Chester, our solicitors are here to provide comprehensive advice and support tailored to your family’s needs.