Following separation or divorce, it is not uncommon for a parent to want to change their child’s surname. A parent may want to change their child’s name after separation or divorce for a number of reasons, for instance:
- So that a child feels better associated sharing the same surname as the parent they are primarily living with.
- In cases where a child is estranged from a parent whose name the child no longer wishes to share; and/or
- As a way of helping the child identify themselves as part of a family, particularly if the family is a blended one.
It is important to note that a parent cannot simply attend the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry and change the child’s name. This is because Registry requires an authority from both parents for the name change. Under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), there is a presumption of equal shared parental responsibility.
This means the parents of the child will equally share in the decision making for their child. As with matters relating to the child’s education, religious upbringing and health, a child’s name (and any changes to it) is considered by the Family Court to be a significant issue affecting the child’s long-term care, welfare and development and as such, that decision needs to be made jointly by the child’s parents.
What if parents don’t agree on changing the name?
If the parents cannot agree on the change of name, the first step is to try and resolve the issue at Mediation. If a resolution still cannot be reached, then an application can be made to the Court to change a child’s name. As with any parenting matter, the best interest of the child is the paramount consideration for the Judge. Whether the application is granted will depend upon the type or weight of evidence led in support of the application and ultimately whether it is in the best interest of the child for the child’s name to be changed.
If you want more information about the list of established factors that the Court will consider when determining an application to change a child’s name, or assistance to lodge an application to change your child’s name, please contact Cornerstone Law Offices.