I’ve had two mothers recently asking for advice about changing their child’s surname after remarrying. They’ve been keen for the whole household to have the same surname after marrying their new partner. It has been interesting to compare their situations.
One of them had already changed their son’s surname without consulting dad only for him to discover the change and apply to court for an order that his son’s surname be changed back. The proceedings aren’t finished yet but I’ve advised her that the court is likely to agree with dad. It has been a stressful process for her and the child is naturally confused about the changes.
Fortunately, my other client has consulted me before taking any action to change her daughter’s surname. I’ve told her it is important to consult the father of the child and she are obliged to obtain his permission. I’m waiting for a response to my letter that went out to him this week. If dad doesn’t agree, she’ll have to consider other options including a double-barrelled surname or leaving the child’s surname as it is until she is old enough to change it without consulting parents.
Fortunately, it is a simple process once both parents agree the new name and help from a solicitor can result in minimum stress for all concerned. But it has to be right for the child involved. I have previously advised a mother who wanted her son’s surname changed only for that child to insist that he didn’t want to – he was 12 years old and his wishes most certainly needed to be taken into consideration.
Lisa Pickering is a solicitor and Director at Picasso Legal and has specialised in family law matters for most of her career. If you have questions regarding a change of name, book an appointment with one of the Picasso Legal team at the Free Advice Open Day at Meeting Point House on 14 October 2015 – Call 01952 303004 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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