What Family Law Says About A Parent Changing A Child’s Name After Separation Or Divorce

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March 1, 2023

One of the enquiries that many family lawyers get from their clients who have children and who have separated or divorced, concerns the rights and legalities of changing a child’s name. Most usually that will be to change their surname rather than their first name, although that does get raised occasionally.

Almost without exception enquiries to family lawyers about changing a child’s surname will come from the child’s mother, who, having changed her surname when she got married, wishes to either revert to her maiden name or it could be she is going to remarry and change her surname to that of her new spouse. It follows that the child’s mother may want her child’s surname to match hers for practical and emotional reasons.

Family Law And Shared Parental Responsibility

One of the core principles enshrined in current family law, and in particular the 1975 Family Law Act, is that of shared parental responsibility. It means that, even if a child lives primarily with one of their parents, their absent parent has as much say in their child’s well-being as the resident parent. As such, a child’s mother cannot make important decisions about the child, including what surname they use, independently and without discussion with the child’s father.

What Relocation Orders Mean For The Children Of Divorced Parents

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April 6, 2021

Whenever a couple divorces and there are children in that marriage, in most cases both parents will be awarded joint parental responsibility unless one parent and their family lawyer can show the family court that sole responsibility should be ordered.

In truth, it is rare for sole parental responsibility to be given, except where one of the parents is absent or not capable of having such responsibility, for example, if they are a serious drug user.

For most parents and children, it is joint parental responsibility which will apply and that will cover who the children live with, visitation, and also the obligation for both parents to discuss and agree on any and all of the major decisions that relate to a child’s upbringing and welfare.

One major problem with that scenario is when the parent with whom a child lives decides that they wish to relocate. When we say relocate that is not talking about a simple house move to another part of the city, but instead referring to a move to a completely different city or state.