Can I change my child's first name?
A recent survey has shown that almost 20% of people would pick a different name for their child if given the chance again, although in reality only 1 in 50 parents do change their child's name.
I read this with interest; family legend has it that my parents had decided I would be called 'Alicia' before I was born, but then when I was born my dad decided I looked like a Laura and wouldn't call me anything else (the Bennetts have a genetic propensity for stubborn behaviour!). Fortunately, this decision was made straight away and I was registered as Laura, otherwise my parents could have been among the 20% who felt they had picked the wrong name for their child.
The birth of a child has to be registered within 42 days of birth. Parents therefore do have a six week window in which to choose a name, or to change their mind if they have picked one but it doesn't seem to suit. This gives a window of opportunity to parents who may have developed cold feet about their choice of name.
But, if the child is registered and then both parents agree that the wish to change the name of their child, they can do so by deed poll. The documentation is available to download from the gov.uk website, or alternatively there are a number of agencies who are able to assist parents with the preparation of the documentation for a small additional fee.
If one parent wishes to change their child's name, but the other disagrees, the parent wishing to make the change can make an application to the Court to determine the issue. As with all applications concerning children, the welfare of the child will be the paramount consideration of the Court and they will only make an Order if they believe that to do so would be in the child's best interests.
The Court of Appeal have recently confirmed that it is also possible for a local authority to intervene where the parent's choice of name is "beyond the unusual, bizarre or foolish" to the extent where the choice of name would be likely to cause a child significant harm. In such circumstances, the person with responsibility for the child would be encouraged to choose an alternative. Our blog 'What's in a name?' looked at this in further detail.
It is also possible for an adult to change their name, either by deed poll or by Change of Name deed. Members of the Blake Morgan Family team are able to assist with the preparation of a Change of Name deed for clients aged eighteen or over. Please contact us should you require assistance.