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Can I change my child's name?

Can I change my child's name?

Monday 13th of May 2019
By: Lauren Dunning, Associate, Coote Family Lawyers

You are all very skilled and I am grateful for the ongoing professional advice you are providing me.

We have separated or divorced, can I change my child's name?

Often when parents separate, one parent may revert to using their maiden name, may ultimately re-partner and take a different surname or a child might have a different surname to their siblings.

A parent who has primary or even sole care of a child does not necessarily have the right to change the child's name. The overarching principle of equal shared parental responsibility requires that parents consult about major, long term issues for a child, including a child's name and make those decisions jointly. A change of name therefore requires the consent of both parents or a Court Order.

Where there is agreement between parents, a child's name can be changed by lodging an application with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. But what if you do not agree?

An application can be made to the Family Court to change a child's name. When determining the application, the welfare and best interests of the child are paramount to the Court's decision as to whether to make orders regarding a change of name.

However, the Court will also consider the following factors:

  • Short and long term effects of a change;
  • The effect of frequent and random changes of name;
  • The advantages that will accrue to the child in both the short and long term, if the name remains as it is now;
  • Any embarrassment to the child if their name is different from that of the parent with whom they routinely live;
  • Any confusion of identity for the child;
  • Any effect which a change of surname may have on the relationship between the child and the parent whose surname the child had during the relationship;
  • The extent of time and/or communication the child has or is likely to have in future with the other parent;
  • The degree of identification the child has with the father and mother, and with any siblings;
  • The wishes of the child in appropriate circumstances.

Applications for change of name are often strongly disputed by parties. Each case turns on its individual set of facts in reference to the considerations outlined above.

If you would like advice on this issue, relevant to your individual circumstances, call 9804 0035 or email to make an appointment to speak to one of our team of top family lawyers in Melbourne.


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