Can I change my child’s surname after separation?

What Name - Blackboard with alphabet

Family courts have the power to make parenting orders under the Family Law Act. An order to change a child’s surname is considered a parenting order pursuant to section 64B of the Act.

As with any parenting order, the Court is concerned with the child’s best interests. In other words, the Court is to consider whether a name change is in the child’s best interests.[1]

We have written in other articles about the considerations a court has regard to in determining the best interests of a child.

Recent appeal court authority[2]tells us that the factors most frequently considered in determining whether to grant an application to change a child’s name include:

  1. Any embarrassment likely to be experienced by the child if his or her name is different from the parent with residence or care and control;
  2. Any confusion of identity which may arise for the child if his or her name is changed or is not changed;
  3. The effect any change in surname may have on the relationship between the child and the parent whose name the child bore during the relationship;
  4. The effect of frequent or random changes of name;
  5. The contact that the non-custodial parent has had and is likely to have in the future with the child;
  6. The degree of identification that the child or children have with their non-custodial parent; and
  7. The degree of identification which the child or children have with the parent with whom they live.

In certain circumstances, it can be extremely important to your child’s wellbeing that a name change be considered. If you wish to discuss your circumstances further and to obtain advice on your child’s change of name, contact one of our experienced family law solicitors.

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