Matters Considered by the Court when making an Order as to a Child’s name

Child Name Family Law Separation Divorce

There are certain things the Court must consider before making an Order as to what name is to be used for a Child.

The things a Court must consider include:

  • The welfare of the child (this being the paramount consideration of the Court);
  • The short and long term effects of the change in the child’s surname;
  • Any embarrassment likely to be experienced by the child if their name is different from that of the parent who has day-to-day care of the child;
  • Any confusion of identity which may arise for the child if their name is changed or is not changed;
  • The effect which any change in surname may have on the relationship between the child and the parent whose name the child bore during the relationship;
  • The effect of frequent or infrequent changes of name;
  • The advantages both in the short term and in the long term which will accrue to the child if their name remains as it is;
  • Any name that has been assumed and used by the child as well as the child’s degree of identification with the name used.

If a Court is being asked to change the surname of the child from say the father, thern there are other things a Court must also consider, including:

  • If the name is to be changed from that of the father:
    • the amount of time the child spends with the father and whether the child has a meaningful relationship with the father;
      • the degree of identification which the children have with their mother and any stepfather;
        • the degree of identification which the children have with any subsequent children borne to their mother which bear a different surname;
          • the desire of the father that the original name used for the child remain.

        The reverse would be the case and considered, if the child's surname was being changed from that of the mother.

        A court is not likely to accept ‘mere convenience’ as an acceptable reason to change a child’s surname.


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        Content By:
        Michelle Beatty, Senior Lawyer
        Virtual Legal

        Other Questions answered in the Change of a Child's Surname Section


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