Can I change my child's surname without my ex-partner's consent?

Posted 25th March 2014

Written by Newtons Media Team

Before we can answer this question we must also ask whether your ex-partner has Parental Responsibility.

What is Parental Responsibility?

Parental Responsibility means the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority by law a parent has for their child including being involved in important decisions. It includes rights and duties with regard to education, choice of religion, administration of a child’s property and  lasts until the child is 18 years old.

Who Has Parental Responsibility?


Mothers will automatically have Parental Responsibility for their child from birth unless it has been revoked by an Order, such as adoption order.


A father has parental responsibility if he is:

  • married to the child’s mother (a divorce will not remove Parental Responsibility)
  • listed on the birth certificate from 1st December 2003
  • getting a parental responsibility agreement with the mother
  • getting a parental responsibility order from a court

You can apply to the Court for parental responsibility if you don’t automatically have it.

What Happens if the Other Parent Has Parental Responsibility?

If the other parent does have Parental Responsibility, you will need to obtain their permission to change your child’s name, whether it is change to forename or surname.  If they consent to the change of name, the consent must be provided in writing so that the necessary document can be drafted.

If the other parent does not consent to the change of name, you would need to apply to the Court for permission to change your child’s name.  The Court would then decide whether it was in your child’s best interests for the change of name to take place.

What Happens if the Other Parent Does Not Have Parental Responsibility?

You will be able to change your child’s name without their consent or the Court’s approval.  You would still need to make a formal deed changing their name but a solicitor can do this for you.  Having said this, it is important to note that where an unmarried father has frequent contact with his child and the child’s mother has sole parental responsibility the father may, in certain circumstances, be able to reverse the name change.

If you wish to discuss changing your child’s name or if you believe your ex-partner has changed your child’s surname, please contact the Family Team at Newtons Solicitors.  We offer a first class approach to what can be a difficult and upsetting time.  Please note we also offer a free half an hour confidential appointment and can be flexible when needed.  We have car parking and wheelchair access.