How Do I Change My Child’s Name?
• July 25, 2023
With the evolution of the family unit, we see more frequently a child, a parent, or a non-parent carer expressing a desire to change a child’s name. Whilst this can be a relatively straightforward process if both parents agree to the name change or the child is 18 years or over. However, it can be more daunting if the other parent does not agree to the proposed change of name.
Name change application with consent of both parents
Where both parents consent to the name change, a relatively simple application can be made in Victoria by completing the necessary form and submitting the appropriate documentation to the Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages.
When is a name change application likely to be successful without the consent of one parent?
There are minimal circumstances in which you can make an application without the consent of the biological parent or the person named on the birth certificate, for example:
- if the other person named on the birth certificate has passed away; or
- you are the only parent listed on your child’s birth certificate.
When one parent objects to the child’s name being changed
In most cases involving a name change dispute, the party seeking the name change will need to make an application to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia or to the County Court of Victoria, where the child is born in Victoria.
Whether an application is made in the County Court or the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia, the paramount principle remains that the proposed name change must be in the child’s best interests. When determining whether the proposed name change is in the child’s interest, the Court may consider the following:
- The short- and long-term effects of the name change on the child.
- Any embarrassment likely to be experienced by the child if the name change is granted or not granted.
- Any confusion of identity the child may experience arising from the name change or in the event the name change is not granted; and
- The effect that any change in surname may have on the relationship between the child and the parent whose name the child bore before the proposed name change.
Who can make an application to change a child’s name?
Applications may be made by a caregiver of a child, whether that is:
- A legal guardian of an adopted child seeking to change the child’s surname to their own;
- A mother seeking to change the child’s surname to her surname after separation from the child’s father;
- A person that is re-marrying and wishes the child’s name to be the same as their new partner’s name;
- A father that was not named on the child’s birth certificate who now seeks to have the child’s name changed to include his surname; or
- A step-parent seeking to change the child’s name to include their surname.
However, depending on the circumstances of your case and your relationship with the child, there are advantages and disadvantages of making an application in the County Court of Victoria as opposed to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.
Name change applications, like most parenting matters, can be very complex and whether you should make such an application and where such an application should be made needs proper consideration and planning based on the circumstances of your case.
If you would like to know more or need advice regarding a change of name application for a child in your care, please get in touch with us at Umbrella Family Law on (03) 9279 6800.
At Umbrella Family Law, we take a holistic approach to assisting our clients, and we can provide you and your family with more than just legal advice. If you want to learn more, please get in touch with Umbrella Family Law for a confidential discussion today.