There may be circumstances where a child may wish to have their name changed or a parent may wish to change their child’s name. This could be to have the same name as the rest of the family or for another reason. As long as all the people who have parental responsibility consent to changing a child’s name and this is done without the intention to defraud or deceive there should be no problem.

Changing a child’s name by deed poll

The simplest and best method of changing a child’s name is by deed poll with the consent of everyone with parental responsibility.

Although there is no legal process to follow to start using a new name (as long as the above paragraph is satisfied), it is advisable to get evidence like a ‘deed poll’. This is because official documents like a passport would require such evidence in order to change a name.

If the child (minor) is under 18, you can change their name by enrolling it at the Royal Courts of Justice. If the minor is over the age of 16 the child could make their own deed poll. Further information on how to get a deed poll, including the link to the deed poll for minors pack is found here.

What if consent is refused by someone with parental responsibility?

Sometimes someone with parental responsibility may refuse consent to change a child’s name. In these cases, it will be necessary to attempt resolution through family mediation and have a mediation information assessment meeting (MIAM). You can get details of a local family mediator by contacting National Family Mediation on 0300 400 0636. Legal aid may be available for help with costs of mediation if you have a low income. Speak to your mediator about this in more detail before you arrange your first appointment.

If the dispute about your child’s name is not resolved through mediation, you may apply to the court for a ‘specific issue order’ using a C100 form. There is a fee for this application and you can check what the current fee is with your local court. Find details of your local court here.

A court will only agree to change the child’s name if they feel that it would be in the best interest of the child. For more details about this process visit the government website on the link above.

People with parental responsibility for a child can change the name of a child under 16 without her/his agreement. However, if the child or young person under 16 objects to the change of her/his name and s/he is of sufficient maturity and understands the consequences of what her/his parent is seeking to do, s/he could apply for and may be granted a court order to stop the change of her/his name. This would again be a specific issue order, but the child needs to get permission from the court before applying.

A parent who wishes to register a change of name for a young person aged 16 or 17 would need her/his consent in writing.

THIS FACT SHEET IS INTENDED AS A GENERAL STATEMENT OF THE LAW AND DOES NOT PURPORT TO RENDER SPECIFIC LEGAL ADVICE. SPECIFIC ADVICE ON A PARTICULAR PROBLEM SHOULD ALWAYS BE SOUGHT.