Can My Ex Change My Child’s Surname?
If you have parental responsibility, your child’s surname cannot be changed without your consent. The exception to this rule is where an application is made to the court, but these are very rarely successful.
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How to change a child’s surname
In Northern Ireland, there are five possible ways to change a child’s surname –
- At the Birth Register
- Court application
- Common usage
- Deed Poll
If everyone with parental responsibility agrees that a child’s surname can be changed, there is no reason why the name change cannot proceed. So, if you have parental responsibility for your child and you do not consent, this option will not be available.
At the Birth Register
If a child has been registered under one parent’s name, rather than both, then it is possible to re-register the birth to include both parents’ names. After this, the child’s surname can be changed at the Birth Register, although only if the parents marry and agree. So, if your ex wants to change your child’s surname and you do not consent, this option will not be available.
If you do not consent, your ex may decide to make a court application, requesting that your child’s surname is changed. This is known as a Specific Issue Order. However, these are rarely successful.
Changing your name by common usage means that you use a child’s new surname so frequently that it becomes common place. Nevertheless, this does not mean it has been legally changed.
Anyone can change their name by Deed Poll. However, a child who is under the age of 18 (or a parent of someone who is under the age of 18) must get both parents to sign the form if –
- Both parents were married to, or in a civil partnership with, each other; or
- Both parents have parental responsibility for the child
Stop my ex changing my child’s surname
Therefore by and large, your ex must obtain your permission if he/she wants to change your child’s surname. In theory it is possible for someone to make a Specific Issue Order, asking that your child’s surname is changed without your consent. Nevertheless, such applications are often unsuccessful.
If you are concerned that your ex will change your child’s surname, you can always apply for a Prohibited Steps Order. This is a court order that stops a parent from taking a certain course of action – like taking the child out of the country, or indeed, changing a child’ name.
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