By Elizabeth Adams
Can I change my child’s surname is a common question we are asked by separated parents.
In short, the answer is “yes”, if the other parent agrees.
If the other parent does not agree then the parties will need to attend Family Dispute Resolution to try and reach an agreement as to what name or names the child should take as his or her surname.
In cases where parents cannot reach an agreement even with the assistance of Family Dispute Resolution court proceedings will need to be commenced in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. In order to convince the court that a child’s surname should be changed then the parent wanting the change will need to prove to the court that it is in the child’s best interests to have a different surname.
In situations where one parent is absent in the child’s life, it can be easier to convince the court to change the child’s surname to that of the primary parent. In this situation a child may be embarrassed at school by not having the same surname as his or her mother.
Typically where the court agrees that the child’s surname can be changed then the court will make orders directing the parent to sign the necessary application form to enable the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages to record the requested change.
Unfortunately, in some cases the parent may decide to change the child’s surname whilst the child is in his or her car and then revert to the child’s legal surname when the child is in the care of the other parent. This can become very confusion for the child and also care providers for the child, such as healthcare facilities and education facilities. In this situation the Court can make an order to prevent the other parent from calling the child by any name other than the child’s legal name.
For more information as to how to approach a change of name issue, please contact one of our family law solicitors.