Q: My ex-partner and I split up a couple of years ago. We have a five year-old daughter who lives with her mum. When our daughter was born her birth was registered with just my surname, but when I went to a parents’ evening at her school a few weeks ago I discovered that my ex has added her own surname to my daughter’s surname and registered her at school under that name.
I have told her I am not happy about this but she is refusing to do anything about it. Can she change my daughter’s name without my permission? And can I force her to change it back to the name on her birth certificate?
A: If you have Parental Responsibility, your ex has no legal right to change your daughter’s name without your consent and you can apply to the Court for a specific issue Order and a Prohibited steps Order to ensure she is known by your name.
If you disagree with the name change the Court would be likely to agree that it is in the best interests of your daughter to keep the name that is on her birth certificate, i.e. your name.
The Court would only consider upholding the name change if they felt that it was in your daughter’s best interests to do so. Much would depend on how long she has been known by her new name and whether it would cause her any harm to change it back. Also, the Court would look at the mother’s reasons for changing the name in the first place.
Under the current circumstances, if you have tried to talk to your ex-partner and failed to get her to comply with your wishes you should seek advice from a solicitor specialising in family law.