In a hearing at the Court of Appeal on the 20th August 2013, the Court upheld a Mother’s appeal against a Judge’s decision in the County Court which allowed the Father’s application to succeed, changing the child’s surname. The Court reinforced what the law surrounding changing of a child’s surname is and stated that the legal test that should have been applied by the Judge in the original case was the test set out in RW, RA, RB (Change of Name) [1999] 2 SLR 9 30 which applied the case of Dawson –v- Wearnouth.

The law in the latter case was summarised to state that if parents are married then they both have the power and the duty to register the child’s name but if they are not married the Mother has the sole duty and power to do so. Once a child’s name is registered, if a Residence Order is given to one party, then that obliges any person wishing to change the surname to obtain the permission of the Court or the written consent of all those that have parental responsibility. However, if there is not a Residence Order in place then the person wishing to change a surname from the registered name, or to obtain the relevant written consent of the leave of the Court by making an application for a Specific Issue Order. The Courts will need to consider the welfare of the child and will look at factors such as the reason for the registration of the surname, for example the position of the biological link with the child’s Father. The relevant considerations should include factors which may arise in the future as well as the present situation. The case further states that the reason given for changing or seeking to change a child’s name based on the fact that the child’s name is or is not the same as the parent making the application does not generally carry much weight, however each case has to be decided on its own facts.

At Ringrose Law we have a Specialist Family Law Team that can assist in the process of changing a child’s name. For more information contact our Family team at our offices in Boston, Grantham, Lincoln, Sleaford, Spalding and Newark.

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