Change of name on divorce

It is not uncommon for a woman to want to change her surname after divorce. She may wish to revert to her maiden name, or change it to something completely different. She may also wish to change her children’s names. So, what is involved?

Technically, your name is simply what you want others to call you, so all you need to do is ask people to call you by whatever name you wish. However, certain organisations, such as banks and the Passport Office may require written proof of the change of name, and for this you will usually need to have a change of name deed drawn up. A solicitor can prepare the deed, and provide you with certified copies which you can use to notify those organisations of the name change.

Having changed their own surname, or having remarried, many mothers then wish to change the surname of their children. However, changing children’s names after divorce is not so straightforward. You will not be able to take any step to change a child’s name without either the consent of everyone with parental responsibility (usually the father), or a court order. Courts do not normally agree to ‘cutting off’ the father in this way, unless there is a very good reason – the mother remarrying is not, on its own, a good reason.

If the mother does get the father’s consent, then she may still need a change of name deed drawn up. This is similar to a change of name deed for herself, only she signs the deed on behalf of the child. Again, certified copies of the signed deed will be used as proof of the child’s name change.

If the father does not consent and the mother wants to apply for a court order giving her permission to change the child’s name, then she should first consult a specialist family lawyer, who will be able to advise her whether the court is likely to agree to the name change. Family Law Cafe can help you find a specialist family lawyer and strategise what needs to be done, in the most cost-effective way.

Image: Signature, by Sebastien Wiertz, licensed under CC BY 2.0.