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Can I Change My Child’s Surname?

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We recently posted a blog concerning myths about divorce (8 Myths About Your Divorce), one of which referred to changing a spouse's name back to their maiden name after divorce. In a similar vein, after separation, many parents want to know about applying to change their child's surname. The parent may have already reverted to their maiden name or considering remarriage.

A change of surname is considered a significant issue with regards to a child's welfare. The Family Law Act 1975 created a presumption that both parents have an equal shared responsibility for long term decisions, including a child's name. As a result, it is usually the case that either the other parent gives consent and an application can be made to the Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages; or, a parent obtains a Court Order enabling them to change the name; or, the Court has previously made an Order that one parent has sole parental responsibility.

All change of name applications are determined on a case by case basis. Applications for a change of surname are frequently contested and the best interests of your child will always be the primary consideration and will override the wishes of both parents. Should the child say that they would prefer to keep the name as it is, this may be considered of greater importance than the wishes of the parents (Fooks & McCarthy [1993]). However, while the wishes of your child must be taken into account, the best interests of your child in consideration of the above factors will determine whether an application is successful.

Contact us

If you are seeking advice regarding changing a child's surname after separating, or indeed any other issue relating to Family Law, please book a consultation with our Family Lawyer today or call (02) 9281 5088 for a free 10-minute consultation.

At Szabo & Associates Solicitors, we want you to get to the point where you can say “I feel ok now, I have spoken to a lawyer and I now know exactly what my options are.”

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