For a variety of reasons, a parent that is planning on receiving full custody of their child after a divorce may want to change the legal name of the child, specifically their last name, If it comes from the other parent’s side of the family. However, there are some factors that play into the legality of changing the child’s name. Some of these factors are age, the reasoning for the change, and the interests of the child.
If the child is under 16, then a parent is able to change under a deed of change of name, otherwise known as a “deed poll”. A deed poll is a legal, binding document that that commits a person to whatever action is detailed in the document. In this scenario, following the poll, the person will be legally abandoning their name, agreeing to their new name at all times going forward, and living a life in which people will be addressing them by their new name. It is important to note that it is very hard and unlikely to change the original birth certificate, and it may not reflect the change.
There are various reasons that have been considered for a change of name as well, such as the common scenario where a parent is distressed by having to address their child, who shares either a first and/or last name with the father, especially if there is a history of violence between the parents. The court has recognized that this distress can have a serious impact on the parent’s ability to take care of the child. The court also has acknowledged scenarios, in which it would be in the best interest of the child to have a name change. This could be a scenario where the child has not been known by their current name very long, and in fact by NOT changing the name, it could actually cause the child harm .