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    Information and advice about officially changing a child's name by Deed Poll
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About Deed Polls
Can I change my child's name?

A child's legal name can easily be changed by Deed Poll providing everyone with parental responsibility (PR) for the child consents to the name change.  If your child is 16 years of age or over (or approaching their 16th birthday), they must apply for their own Deed Poll for which parental consent is not required.

Parental responsibility is a legal term and this article will enable you to understand the meaning of parental responsibility and determine who has parental responsibility for your child and who needs to consent to your child's name change.  For quick access, we have listed this article's contents below.  However, we urge you to read the whole article for a full understanding of the issues relating to changing a child's name.  You will also find information in this article about the situations where you may be able to change your child's name without the consent of the father.

Sections in this article
1. Definition of father
2. Consent requirement
3. What is parental responsibility (PR)?
4. Who has PR for your child?
Sub sections include:
   Acquisition of PR by parents at birth, upon registration and marriage
   Acquisition of PR by unmarried fathers
   Acquisition of PR by step-fathers
   Acquisition of PR by adoptive parents
   Acquisition of PR by foster carers
   Acquisition of PR by family and friend carers
   How PR is lost
   How PR can be modified
5. Important legal issues
(advice for mothers with sole PR where the father has regular contact)
6. Changing a child's name without the consent of a father whose whereabouts is not known
7. Changing a child's name without the consent of an absent father whose whereabouts is known
8. Changing a child's name without the consent of an absent mother
9. Changing a child's name if the person named as the father on the birth certificate is not the biological father
10. Changing a child's name if you do not have parental responsibility for the child
11. Applying for a court order to change your child's name without the consent of the other parent
12. The difference between sole custody and sole parental responsibility
13. Can a birth certificate be changed?
14. Important passport advice
15. Example letters of consent

1.  Definition of father
It is important at the outset to understand what father means when mentioned in this article.

Throughout the United Kingdom, the definition of
father is based on law and not biology.  If the mother is married when the child is born, unless evidence to the contrary can be produced, it is the law that a married mother's husband is presumed to be the father and has parental responsibility.  This is the case even if the husband is not the biological father.

If the mother is unmarried, it is also the law that unless evidence can be produced to the contrary, the person recorded on her child's birth certificate as the father is presumed to be the father.  If the child's birth was registered in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland from the relevant dates given in section 4.1 below, the father has parental responsibility, regardless of whether or not he is the biological father.

Throughout our website, when we say
father, we mean the legal father as defined above.

For information about changing a child's name where the father (i.e. the legal father), is not the biological father, please read section 9 below.

2.  Consent requirement
Before we can issue a Deed Poll to change a child's name, we must be satisfied that everyone with parental responsibility for the child has consented to the name change.  This means when you submit an application to us (either by post or online) you must also submit a letter of consent signed by everyone with parental responsibility for your child.

A letter of consent is not just required by ourselves since no school, doctor or similar official record holder (such as the passport office) should allow a child to be known by another name without satisfying themselves that everyone with parental responsibility has consented to the name change.  Therefore, the letter of consent you send us will be returned to you with your child's Deed Poll documentation so it may be used, along with the Deed Poll, when applying to change your child's documents and records.

Please note, if you have sole parental responsibility for your child, we do not need to receive a letter of consent from you.  Your child's Deed Poll document will contain a declaration that confirms your legal right to change your child's name without the need for anyone else's consent.

Example letters of consent can be found on our Example letters of consent page (opens new window).  There is a link to the example letters page on the online application form.  Our postal application packs also contain example letters of consent.

3.  What is parental responsibility?
Parental responsibility is a legal term that means having all the legal rights, duties, powers and responsibilities for a child (a child is a young person under the age of 16).

Having parental responsibility for a child means that you are responsible for, and have the right to be consulted about, the child's health, education, religion and welfare.  To change a child's name, those with parental responsibility must consent to the name change.

4.  Who has parental responsibility for your child?
This section will enable you to determine whether you have sole or joint parental responsibility for your child.  If you have sole parental responsibility, you do not need anyone else's consent to change your child's name.  If you have joint parental responsibility, you will need the consent of anyone else who has parental responsibility (usually the father) to change your child's name.

4.1  Acquisition of parental responsibility by the parents at birth, upon registration of the birth and upon subsequent marriage
Throughout the United Kingdom, a mother automatically acquires parental responsibility at birth.  However, the law regarding the acquisition of parental responsibility by a father varies according to where and when the birth was registered:

  • For births registered in England or Wales
    A father automatically acquires parental responsibility if he is married to the mother at the time of the child's birth or if he subsequently marries the mother.  An unmarried father acquires parental responsibility if he is named, or becomes named, on the birth certificate from 1st December 2003.
  • For births registered in Scotland
    A father automatically acquires parental responsibility if he is married to the mother at the time of the child's conception or if he subsequently marries the mother.  An unmarried father acquires parental responsibility if he is named, or becomes named, on the birth certificate from 4th May 2006.
  • For births registered in Northern Ireland
    A father automatically acquires parental responsibility if he is married to the mother at the time of the child's birth.  If the father marries the mother after the child's birth, the father acquires parental responsibility if the father’s domicile at the time of the marriage is in Northern Ireland.  An unmarried father acquires parental responsibility if he is named, or becomes named, on the birth certificate from 15th April 2002.
  • For births registered in the Isle of Man
    A father automatically acquires parental responsibility if he is married to the mother at the time of the child's birth or if he subsequently marries the mother.  An unmarried father does not acquire parental responsibility by being named on the birth certificate.
  • For births registered in the Bailiwick of Jersey
    A father automatically acquires parental responsibility if he is married to the mother at the time of the child's birth or if he subsequently marries the mother.  An unmarried father does not acquire parental responsibility by being named on the birth certificate.
  • For births registered in the Bailiwick of Guernsey
    A father automatically acquires parental responsibility if he is married to the mother at the time of the child's birth or if he subsequently marries the mother.  An unmarried father does not acquire parental responsibility by being named on the birth certificate.
  • For births registered outside the United Kingdom
    A father automatically acquires parental responsibility if he is married to the mother at the time of the child's birth or if he subsequently marries the mother.  An unmarried father does not acquire parental responsibility by being named on the birth certificate.

If a father has parental responsibility, his consent is required to make any change to his child's name including double-barrelling the surname.  This is the case even if he and the mother have separated, divorced or remarried and if the father has no contact whatsoever with the child.

If a father, who has parental responsibility and who no longer lives with the mother and child, refuses to give his consent, the only course of action is for the mother to apply to the courts for leave (permission) to change the child's name.  A court will give permission if it believes it will be in the child's best interests to allow the name change.  The court will take into account the degree of commitment of the father to the child and the frequency and quality of contact between the father and child to determine whether the name-link between the father and child can be broken.  An older child's views (age 11 upwards) will also be important in deciding whether the name change should be allowed.

Please read section 11 below for information and advice about applying for a court order.

4.2  Acquisition of parental responsibility by unmarried fathers
Unmarried fathers can acquire parental responsibility by:

  • Subsequent marriage to the mother.
  • Being named on the child's birth certificate from 1st December 2003 in England and Wales, from 4th May 2006 in Scotland and from 15th April 2002 in Northern Ireland.
  • Being awarded parental responsibility by a court.
  • Entering into a court registered Parental Responsibility Agreement with the mother.
  • Being named on a Residence Order issued by a court.
  • Being appointed a guardian by a court.
  • Being a testamentary guardian upon the death of the mother (only if no other person has parental responsibility for the child).

If an unmarried father acquires parental responsibility, his consent is required, in addition to the mother's consent, to change their child's name. Please note, if a mother changes her child's name knowing that the father has applied for a parental responsibility order, it will be quite easy for the father to get the name change reversed once he has obtained his parental responsibility order.

4.3  Acquisition of parental responsibility by step-fathers
Step-fathers can acquire parental responsibility by:

  • Being awarded parental responsibility by a court.
  • Entering into a court registered Parental Responsibility Agreement with the mother.
  • Being granted a Residence Order by a court.
  • Being appointed a guardian by a court.
  • Adopting the child.

If a step-father acquires parental responsibility, his consent would be required, in addition to anyone else who has parental responsibility, to change the child's name e.g. the mother and maybe the natural father.

4.4  Acquisition of parental responsibility by adoptive parents
The parents named on a child's adoption certificate acquire parental responsibility regardless of their marital status.  Anyone who had parental responsibility prior to the child's adoption have their parental responsibility removed upon adoption.

4.5  Acquisition of parental responsibility by foster carers
Local authority approved foster carers may acquire parental responsibility for the child they care for depending upon the legal process used to place the child with the carers.  If parental responsibility is awarded to the foster carers, it will most probably be in addition to the parents and/or the local authority.

Information about who has parental responsibility will be included in the child's Essential Information Record, which is given to foster carers when the child is placed with the carers.

If you are a foster carer and you are unsure who has parental responsibility, you should ask the child's social worker.  If you do not have parental responsibility for the child, you will not be able to change the child's name - it can only be changed by someone with parental responsibility.  If the child has been with you for several years and wants to change their surname to yours, you should speak to the child's social worker.

4.6  Acquisition of parental responsibility by family and friend carers
When a child is cared for by a friend or family member, the parents will most probably continue to have parental responsibility.  The local authority may also have parental responsibility depending upon the process used to place the child.  The following methods of placement will give the carers parental responsibility:

  • Being granted a Residence Order by a court.
  • Being granted a Special Guardianship Order by a court.
  • Being appointed a testamentary guardian upon the death of the parents.

Only being appointed a guardian upon the death of the parents will give the carer sole parental responsibility.

The following methods of placement will not give the carer parental responsibility:

  • Placed by a local authority under a Care Order.
  • Placed under a private arrangement with the parents.

If you are unsure of who holds parental responsibility, please email your circumstances to us by clicking on this link.

4.7  How parental responsibility is lost
Parental responsibility is only lost when:

  • The child reaches 16 years of age (see note below).
  • If it is brought to an end on application to a court by the person having it.
  • With the permission of the court on the application of the child.
  • If another person adopts the child.
  • If an order granting it is terminated by the court.
  • If a person with parental responsibility dies.

Please note, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, parental responsibility is not lost until a person reaches 18 years of age.  However, for a change of name by a Deed Poll issued by us, 16 years of age is the accepted age of consent.  This is because any 16 or 17 year old who applies to a court for leave (permission) to change their name without their parents' consent, will be granted a court order.  Consequently, it is considered a waste of a court's time to hear such cases.

4.8  How parental responsibility can be modified
Parental responsibility can be modified by a court by the issue of:

  • a Care Order.
  • a Contact Order.
  • a Prohibited Steps Order.
  • a Specific Issue Order.

5.  Important legal issues
(for mothers with sole parental responsibility where the father has regular contact)
If you have sole parental responsibility and the father has frequent contact with your child, there is legal precedence that you should be aware of before you apply to change your child's name.

There have been a few successful legal actions where an unmarried father without parental responsibility, has obtained a court order to have his child's surname change reversed (but not any forename changes).  In each case, the mother had changed her child's surname from the father's surname to her surname.  The court ordered that the child's surname be changed back to the father's surname.  The significant factor taken into account by the courts was that the courts recognised the importance of maintaining a link with the father.  By sharing the same surname with the child, the father's biological link is recognised.  The courts also took into account the degree of commitment of the father to the child and the quality of the contact between the father and child.  In these successful cases, there was frequent contact (two to three days each week) and involvement in the child's upbringing and welfare.  This means, therefore, if the father does not have frequent contact or does not pay maintenance, it is highly unlikely that he will be successful in obtaining an order to reverse the surname change.

You are therefore advised that if you change your child's surname and the father has frequent contact and pays maintenance, he may be able to have the surname change reversed (if he has the inclination, time and money to go through the court process).  The only way to eliminate the risk of the surname change being reversed is to apply to the courts for leave (permission) to change the child's surname by Deed Poll without the consent of the father.

If the father has frequent contact and pays maintenance an option to consider is to double-barrel the surname with your surname i.e. add your surname to the child's surname.  By doing this, it much more unlikely that the father will seek a court order to reverse the name change because his name has not been removed and thus the biological link to the father has not been broken.  Furthermore, if you do not link the two elements of the surname with a hyphen, you will find in general day-to-day usage, only the child's first name and last name will be used.  For example, if your child is known as Rebecca Louise SMITH and you change the surname to SMITH JONES, then in general usage, the child will be called Rebecca JONES (but for all official purposes the name Rebecca Louise SMITH JONES must be declared and used).  However, if you hyphenate the surname, the child will always be called Rebecca SMITH-JONES (because the hyphen make the surname one name).

One further point to consider relates to the age of your child.  If your child is into their adolescence (about 11 upwards) and the child wants the name change, the chance of the father being successful in obtaining a court order to reverse the name change is significantly reduced.  This is because a judge must act in the best interests of the child and if the child is able to demonstrate that they fully understand the significance of the name change and desires the name change then the judge will take the child's views into account.

6.  Changing a child's name without the consent of a father whose whereabouts is not known

6.1  Changing a child's surname
It may be possible for a mother to change her child's surname by Deed Poll without the consent of a father (who has parental responsibility) who is absent and his whereabouts is not known.  Usually, this situation arises where a mother wishes to change the surname of her child because the child has the father's surname and the father is now absent following separation or divorce.  The mother may have entered into a new relationship and is using her new partner or husband's surname or has reverted to using her maiden name.

If the father has parental responsibility, is absent and his whereabouts is not known, you can apply for a Deed Poll but you need to support your application with a letter of consent, which should include information about what reasonable measures you have taken to contact the absent father - for example, writing to the father's last known address and contacting relatives and friends of the father etc. The letter should also include details of the period of absence by the father and examples of the father's lack of interest, for example, no maintenance payments and no Christmas or birthday cards or presents received by your child.  See Example letter 4a (opens new window) on our example letters of consent page.  We will return your letter when we post your Deed Poll documentation to you so it may be used, along with your Deed Poll, when applying to change your child's documents and records to your child's new name.

Please note that the issue of a Deed Poll by us is no guarantee that all official record holders, e.g. school, doctor, passport office etc, will change your child's name records.  This is because legally, official record holders should satisfy themselves that all those with parental responsibility have consented to the child's surname change.  If the consent of the absent father is not obtained, an official record holder can refuse to change a child's name records.  However, our experience is that this rarely happens except with the passport office.  The official position of HM Passport Office concerning the issue of children's passports where the father has parental responsibility but his whereabouts is unknown, is to provide them with a court order.  It may be that your passport application will be successful without a court order - certainly many have been in the past.  But with the general move towards tighter government control over identity documents such as passports, you may be asked for a court order.

The only way to guarantee a Deed Poll will be effective changing your child's surname with everyone is to obtain a court order giving you permission to change your child's surname by Deed Poll without the absent father's consent.  If your situation is straight forward, for example, the father has been absent for several years; does not have any contact with your child and does not make any financial contribution, you should have no problem obtaining a court order.  Please read section 11 below for information and advice about applying for a court order to change your child's surname by Deed Poll without the father's consent.


6.2  Changing a child's forenames only
If you do not wish to change your child's surname and you only wish to change your child's forenames (i.e. your child's first name and/or middle name), we can issue a Deed Poll to you, which will include a declaration to say you are legally entitled to act alone for the purpose of changing your child's forenames.  This is permitted under the various Children Acts that cover the United Kingdom.

Please note, when you complete the application form, you need to select the parental responsibility option "
Joint PR (father is absent)" and in the comments box type "I am entitled to act alone for the purpose of changing my child's forenames".  No letter of consent needs to be sent to us.  When payment is received, we will post your Deed Poll documentation to you in accordance with the delivery service you have selected.

7.  Changing a child's name without the consent of an absent father whose whereabouts is known
To change your child's name by Deed Poll where the whereabouts of an absent parent (with parental responsibility) is known, we will need either the absent parent's consent or a court order, which gives the court's permission to change your child's name without the absent father's consent.  The only exception to this is where a mother wishes to change her child's name from the father's name where there is reported violence against the mother or abuse of the children by the father or where the father is in prison for a serious offence.  Examples of situations where we will accept a Deed Poll application from a mother in such circumstances are:

  • The mother has fled the family home to escape violence or abuse from the father and is at risk or fearful of being located.
  • The mother is fearful of contacting the father because of past abuse (physical or mental) towards her or her children.
  • The father is in prison for a serious offence such as murder, rape or other sexual offence and the mother and children do not wish to be associated by name to the father.
  • Where there is a court order in force for no contact.

When you apply to us for your Deed Poll, in the section of the application form where you declare parental responsibility, you will need to select the option Joint parental responsibility (father is absent).  You will then need to send us a letter of consent using Example letter 4b (opens new window) as a template.  Your letter will need to be modified to explain your situation and why you do not wish to contact the father for his consent.  You should include details of any police crime reference numbers and/or details of the conviction and prison sentence (if applicable).  We will return your letter when we post your Deed Poll documentation to you so it may be used, along with your Deed Poll, when applying to change your child's documents and records to your child's new name.

Please note, the issue of a Deed Poll by us is no guarantee that all official record holders, e.g. school, doctor, passport office etc, will change your child's name records.  This is because by law, official record holders should satisfy themselves that all those with parental responsibility have consented to your child's name change.  If the consent of the father is not obtained, an official record holder can refuse to change your child's name records despite your circumstances.  However, our experience is that this rarely happens except with the passport office.  The official position of HM Passport Office concerning the issue of children's passports where the father has parental responsibility is to request a court order.  It may be that your passport application will be successful given your circumstances.  However, you may still be asked for a court order.

The only way to guarantee that a Deed Poll will be effective is to obtain a court order giving you permission to change your child's name without the consent of the absent father, which you should not have a problem obtaining given your circumstances.  Please read section 11 for information about applying for a court order.  If you obtain a court order, you can apply to us for a Deed Poll.  The court order replaces the consent of the father.

8.  Changing a child's name without the consent of an absent mother

8.1  Changing a child's surname
It may be possible for a father to change his child's surname by Deed Poll without the consent of a mother who is absent and her whereabouts is not known.  Usually, this situation arises where the child lives with the father and the father wishes to change the surname of his child because the child has the mother's surname and the mother is now absent following separation.

Please note, we are unable to issue a Deed Poll to a father where the absent mother's whereabouts is known.  You will need to apply for a court order.  Please read section 11 below for information and advice about applying for a court order to change your child's surname by Deed Poll without the mother's consent

When you apply for a Deed Poll, you need to support your application with a letter of consent, which should include information about what reasonable measures you have taken to contact the absent mother - for example, writing to the mother's last known address and contacting relatives and friends of the mother etc. The letter should also include details of the period of absence by the mother and examples of the mother's lack of interest, for example, no Christmas or birthday cards or presents received by your child.  See Example letter 4c (opens new window) on our example letters of consent page.

It is important to bear in mind that the issue of a Deed Poll by us is no guarantee that all official record holders, e.g. school, doctor, passport office etc, will change your child's name records.  This is because legally, official record holders should satisfy themselves that all those with parental responsibility have consented to the child's surname change.  If the consent of the absent mother is not obtained, an official record holder can refuse to change a child's name records.  However, our experience is that this rarely happens except with the passport office.  The official position of HM Passport Office concerning the issue of children's passports where the mother's whereabouts is unknown, is to provide them with a court order.  It may be that your passport application will be successful without a court order - certainly many have been in the past.  But with the general move towards tighter government control over identity documents such as passports, you may be asked for a court order.

The only way to guarantee a Deed Poll will be effective changing your child's surname with everyone is to obtain a court order giving you permission to change your child's surname by Deed Poll without the absent mother's consent.  If your situation is straight forward, for example, the mother has been absent for several years; does not have any contact with your child, you should have no problem obtaining a court order.  Please read section 11 below for information and advice about applying for a court order to change your child's surname by Deed Poll without the mother's consent.


8.2  Changing a child's forenames only
If you do not wish to change your child's surname and you only wish to change your child's forenames (i.e. your child's first name and/or middle name), we can issue a Deed Poll to you, which will include a declaration to say you are legally entitled to act alone for the purpose of changing your child's forenames.  This is permitted under the various Children Acts that cover the United Kingdom.

Please note, when you complete the application form, you need to select the parental responsibility option "
Joint PR (mother is absent)" and in the comments box type "I am entitled to act alone for the purpose of changing my child's forenames".  No letter of consent needs to be sent to us.  When payment is received, we will post your Deed Poll documentation to you in accordance with the delivery service you have selected.

9.  Changing a child's name if the person named on the birth certificate as the father (the legal father) is not the biological father
As discussed in section 1, unless evidence to the contrary can be produced, throughout the United Kingdom, a married mother's husband is presumed to be the father and he has parental responsibility.  This is the case even if the husband is not the biological father.

If the mother is unmarried, it is also the law in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that unless evidence to the contrary can be produced, the person recorded on her child's birth certificate as the father (for births registered from the relevant dates given in section 4.1 above) is presumed to be the father and he has parental responsibility, regardless of whether or not he is the biological father.

If you wish to change the name of your child without the consent of the legal father, when you submit your Child Deed Poll application form, we will require documentary evidence that the legal father is not the biological father.  Suitable evidence we require is either:

  • A letter from the legal father acknowledging he is not the biological father, or
  • The results of a DNA paternity test proving the legal father is not the biological father.

To see an example of the letter we require from the legal father acknowledging he is not the biological father, please click on this link (opens new window).  Please note, when you complete the application form, you should select the parental responsibility option "Sole PR (father has never had PR)".

Of course, if you are able to get the legal father's consent, when completing the application form, you should select the parental responsibility option "
Joint PR (everyone with PR consents to name change)".  You will then need to send us a letter of consent signed by you both.  Please click on this link (opens new window) to see an example of the required letter.

If you do not know the whereabouts of the legal father or if you know the whereabouts of the legal father and you have good reason for not wanting to contact him, please read sections 6 and 7 above for further advice.

10.  Changing a child's name if you do not have parental responsibility for the child
If you wish to change the name of a child for whom you do not have parental responsibility but the child lives with you, it is possible for those with parental responsibility for the child to delegate parental responsibility to you for the purpose of changing the child's name.  You may be, for example, the father (without parental responsibility), a grandparent, a family or friend carer or the child is accommodated with you by a local authority.

When you complete the application form, you need to select the parental responsibility option "
Joint PR (everyone with PR consents to name change)" and in the comments box type "Parental responsibility is being delegated to me".  We will require a letter of consent signed by everyone with parental responsibility for the child.  To see an example of the letter we require, please click on this link (opens new window).

Please note, there is an additional fee of 4 payable for the modification of your Deed Poll document to include details of the delegation.

11.  Applying for a court order to change your child's name without the consent of the other parent
If the other parent (with parental responsibility) will not consent to your child's name change or you wish to guarantee the acceptance of your child's Deed Poll, you should consider applying to your local family court for leave (permission) to change your child's name by Deed Poll without the other parent's consent.  A court will give permission if it believes it will be in your child's best interests to allow the name change.  The court will take into account the degree of commitment of the other parent to your child and the quality and frequency of the contact between the other parent and your child.

Your child's age is also a significant factor.  If your child is under the age of five, it will be difficult to persuade a judge that it is in your child's best interests to permit a name change.  Being so young, it is unlikely your child will be experiencing emotional or behavioural problems or is upset by having to use the absent parent's name.  However, if your child is at least 11 years of age, it is much easier to obtain a court order because when a child reaches adolescence, judges take the child's views into account.  If your child is 14 years of age or over, it is very easy to obtain a court order because your child's views will be paramount.

Please note, your chances of successfully obtaining a court order (for children of all ages) is greatly increased if you do not seek to remove the absent parent's surname from your child's surname (i.e. by double-barrelling your child's surname).  For young children, a two-stage strategy should be considered i.e. initially apply to change to a double-barrelled surname and if successful, you can apply again when your child is 11 years of age to have the absent parent's name removed altogether.

If your child does not have the absent parent's surname, you should not have a problem at all obtaining a court order because there is no link to the absent parent that is being broken by allowing a surname change.

Applying for a court order is not difficult and it is possible to do it yourself if you live in England or Wales (Scotland is more complicated and legal advice is recommended).  Do not be put off from doing what you think will be a daunting experience.  Although there are court fees to pay, if you are on benefits, the fees are reduced or even waived.  If you obtain a court order, you can then apply to us for your child's Deed Poll.  The court order replaces the father's consent.

If the absent parent's whereabouts is not known, before applying for a court order, you should consider trying to change your child's name records by Deed Poll first.  If you successfully change your child's name records and obtain a passport without a court order, which may happen, you will have saved yourself the time and expense of going to court.  You will need a Deed Poll even if you obtain a court order so if your chances of successfully obtaining a court order are high, you might as well apply for a Deed Poll first and see what happens.

If you live in England or Wales
You can download the relevant court forms, which are listed below.  You will need to have installed on your computer Adobe's Reader software, which can be downloaded by clicking on this link (opens new window).

Form Form description
C100 Application under the Children Act 1989 for a residence, contact, prohibited steps or a specific issue section 8 order.
CB1 Making an application - Children and the family courts.
CB3 Serving the forms.
EX50 Civil and Family Court Fees (see page 13 of this leaflet).
EX160A Court fees - Do you have to pay them?
Forms last updated: 12th October 2013

To find out the address of your local Family Court in England or Wales, or to order the above forms by telephone click on this link (opens new window).

If you live in Scotland
An action can be raised in the Sheriff Court under the Ordinary Cause procedure.  Applications must be made by way of an initial writ.  However, because the procedure can be complicated, we recommend you seek legal advice.  You can obtain contact details for solicitors in Scotland from the Law Society of Scotland, 26 Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh, EH3 7YR. Telephone 0131 226 7411.  To visit the website of the Law Society of Scotland click on this link (opens new window).

To find out the address of your local Sheriff Court in Scotland click on this link (opens new window).

If you live in Northern Ireland
To find out the address of your local Family Court in Northern Ireland click on this link (opens new window).

Warning: You are strongly advised not to book a holiday in your child's new name until you are in possession of your child's new passport.  If your Deed Poll and letter of consent are not accepted by the passport office, then you will need time to apply for a court order.

If you require assistance with applying for a court order, you should see a family lawyer or call in to your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

12.  The difference between sole custody and sole parental responsibility
Many parents believe if they have sole custody for their child they have sole parental responsibility.  However, this is not the case.  It is because of this confusion that custody is no longer a term used in family legal matters because it wrongly implies control.  Custody orders have been replaced by residence orders, which more accurately describe the situation i.e. with whom the child lives and it does not give the parent who the residence order is in favour of sole parental responsibility for the child.  If a spouse or partner had parental responsibility before the issue of a residence order, they will still have parental responsibility after it is issued.  Parental responsibility can only be removed from the spouse or partner by a court order.

13.  Can a birth certificate be changed?
There are few circumstances where you can get the name on your child's birth certificate changed.  The few circumstances where your child's birth certificate can be changed are given in our article Can a birth certificate be changed (opens new window).  It is worth reading this article because if you can get your child's birth certificate changed, you do not need a Deed Poll.

If you cannot get your child's birth certificate changed, you can change your child's name by Deed Poll.  After you have used your child's Deed Poll document to get your child's documents and records changed to the new name, you need to keep the Deed Poll document safe with your child's birth certificate.  In the future, if you are required to prove your child's identity, you will need to produce your child's birth certificate and Deed Poll document.  The new name on your child's Deed Poll overrides the name on the birth certificate.

14.  Important passport advice
You are strongly advised not to book an overseas trip in your child's new name until you are in possession of your child's passport in the new name.  It is often not possible to amend a name on travel documents.  Therefore, if there is a problem obtaining your child's new passport in the new name, you may have to cancel the booking and rebook.  Cancellation fees can be as high as the full cost of the booking.

15.  Example letters of consent
If you do not have sole parental responsibility for your child, you may now wish to visit our example letters of consent page to identify which letter we need to receive - by fax or post - after you have submitted your application.  Please click on this link (opens new window) to go to the example letters page.

Last updated: 8 March 2014


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