Changing your child’s name – Can I change my child’s name to Princess Consuela Banana-Hammock?
After going through a separation, it is not uncommon for parents to want to change the name of their child or children – usually the child’s surname. Generally, if both parents agree, the process is relatively simple. You can jointly lodge an application with the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry. Unfortunately, it’s not always as simple as that. If one parent doesn’t agree, then you will generally need a Court Order allowing just one parent to change the name of the child.
So, the next question is, how do I get the Court to make this order? This issue has been discussed in case law and the over-arching principle is what is in a child’s best interests. When deciding whether to make an order for a parent to change a child’s name without the consent of the other parent, the Court will generally look at the following factors:
- Any views expressed by the child about his or her name (if relevant);
- The nature of the child’s relationship with each parent and significant others;
- How the parents have participated or failed to participate in making decisions about major long term issues in relation to the child;
- Each parent’s attitude to their responsibilities of parenthood and to spending time with the child;
- Any cultural issues that may or may not be relevant to the name change and the degree of identification that the child has with each parent;
- A history of financial support provided to the child by either parent;
- The likely affect of any name change to the child – the benefits/disadvantages and what short and long term effects might there be (confusion at school/with medical records etc);
- Whether there will be any embarrassment experienced by the child if their name is different from the parent with residence or care and control;
- Whether the child will have confusion of identity if their name is/is not changed;
- The effect of a name change on their relationship with the parent’s whose name they bore during the relationship;
So, to answer the question of whether you can change your child’s name to ‘Princess Consuela Banana-Hammock’ like Phoebe did in the TV show ‘Friends’ – probably not. But if you are looking to change your child’s surname to match yours or trying to prevent a name change application, come talk to us for specialist advice tailored to your situation and so that all important factors are considered.