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If your child is under 16 years old, potentially both parents will have to consent to a change in the child’s name. In certain circumstances, however, you can change your child’s name without the child’s “legal” father’s consent. The first thing you have to ascertain is, who exactly is the child’s “legal” father. Then, if he is the child’s “legal” father, you need to find out if he has “Parental Responsibility” for the child.
In law, the “legal” father will most usually be the “biological” or “natural” father, especially where he was married to the mother at any time when she was pregnant with the child, or, in England and Wales from 1 December 2003, where he is named on the Birth Certificate. In other parts of the UK, the date will be different. For instance, an unmarried biological father will only have Parental Responsibility in Scotland if the child’s birth was registered or re-registered on or after 4 May 2006 and his name was recorded as the father on the registration. In Northern Ireland, the relevant date is 15 April 2002.
If there is a court order or agreement of any kind relating to the child (for instance, a Parental Responsibility Order, Adoption Certificate, Residence Order, Parental Responsibility Agreement, Special Guardianship Order or Specific Issue Order) then this could set out exactly who has Parental Responsibility. In addition, if there was a surrogacy relationship affecting the child, this may affect who has Parental Responsibility.
If the father of the child does have Parental Responsibility, then you will have to get his consent to change the name of your child, where your child is not yet 16 years of age. If your child is 16 or more years old, then they can change their name themselves, without the consent of either parent, or anyone else, unless there is a Court Order in place which says otherwise.
For more information about applying for a Deed Poll for a child, click here to go to our child deed poll FAQ page.