If you want to change a child’s surname there is three ways this can happen:
- In the Birth Register
- By Deed Poll
- By Common Usage
If the child has been registered in the mother’s name alone the birth can be re-registered in the Register of Births to include the father’s name. This can be done in the following ways:
- Both parents register the birth together using form CRA9
- The mother can name the father and bring along an acknowledgement from the father that he is the father
- The father can bring along a declaration form acknowledging he is the father and a declaration from the mother confirming he is the father
- The mother and father can make a written request on production of a court order which names the father.
The Registrar in your local office or the hospital will have the necessary forms.
Birth Register-Changing the Child’s Name
If the parents marry, and they both agree, the surname can be changed in the Birth Register. Both names, however, must have already been on the Birth Register.
Changing Child’s Name by Deed Poll
This will not change the child’s name on the Birth Register. Changing by Deed Poll involves presenting the Deed Poll and the child’s birth certificate in the deed poll section of Central Office of the High Court.
Children between the ages of 14 and 18 can sign a Deed Poll themselves, provided they have consent of both parents. Children under 14 will need to have the Deed Poll executed (signed) on their behalf by a guardian with the consent of the other guardian (if any).
Generally, the father will need to agree to the change of name, and he will have to sign a form confirming agreement.
If the father’s consent is not available all is not lost. The mother will have to swear a grounding affidavit.
This grounding affidavit of the mother must set out the reasons why the change is being sought, the father’s last address (if known), confirmation that the parents were or were not married, whether they lived together as a family unit, why consent is not available, the last date of contact with the father, and whether the mother is sole guardian or not.
If the father’s name does not appear on the child’s birth certificate the mother will have to swear a supplemental affidavit confirming there are no courts orders in place in relation to guardianship, access, custody or maintenance and setting out what role, if any, the father has in the child’s life.
The deed poll will have to be printed on deed paper and it will state that the mother wishes that the child be called by his/her new surname from now on.
The documents that need to be submitted to the Deed Poll section of Central Office of the High Court will be
- Birth certificate
- Deed poll
- Affidavit of witness
- Grounding affidavit of mother that father is not consenting
- Certified copies of birth cert, passport and court orders relating to guardianship
A solicitor can send in the necessary documents, but the Deed Poll Section will not accept the documents directly from the applicant by post.
You can then enrol the Deed Poll on a publicly accessible register in the Central Office of the High Court, although this is not necessary and you can use the Deed Poll and the child’s birth certificate together for administrative purposes. The National Driving Licence Service (NDLS), however, requires the deed poll be registered for the purposes of getting a driving licence.
Changing Child’s Name by Common Usage
You can change a name by common usage, and use this for official purposes. You need to show 2 pieces of formal identification in which you use this name.
If you are the sole guardian of a child you can do this without any difficulty; if you are joint guardian you will need the consent of the other guardian.
Changing a child’s surname is easier with the agreement of the other parent.
But it is not fatal if the other parent does not agree or cannot be contacted, and applications can be made to the Deed Poll section of Central Office of the High Court and the Senior Registrar will decide based on the circumstances of the case.