Changing your child’s name after separation

Child & Parenting Matters, Family Court Matters, Understanding Family Law

Changing your child’s name after separation

A child’s surname can be a sensitive topic of discussion for parents following a separation.

A child’s surname is considered a major long-term decision and effectively, one parent cannot make this decision without discussing the issue with the other parent and obtaining his or her consent. Even if a parent has been granted sole parental responsibility from a Court, agreement from the other parent or a Court order is still required to change a child’s name.

The Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages process applications for name changes. The application to change the name of a child under 18 requires the consent of both parents listed on the birth certificate, unless:

  1. The Applicant is the only parent named on the child’s birth certificate;
  2. The Applicant is the only living parent; or
  3. A Court approves the change of name.

The issue Applicant parents will commonly run into, is that family law orders for sole parental responsibility may not specifically contain an order allowing for a child’s name to be changed.

The Applicant parent has two options from here:

  1. Make an application to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia seeking a specific order that the child’s name can be changes; or
  2. Obtain an order from a Queensland Magistrates Court for permission to change the child’s name without the other parents’ consent.

The Court will consider and need to decide if it is in the child’s best interest for their name to be changed. The factors which the Courts will have regards to in determining whether there should be any change in the surname of a child include the following:

  • The welfare of the child is the paramount consideration,
  • The short and long term effects of any child in the child’s surname.
  • Any embarrassment likely to be experienced by the child if its name is different from that of the parent with custody and care and control.
  • Any confusion of identity which may arise from the child if his or her name is changed or is not changed.
  • The effect which any change in surname may have on the relationship between the child and the parent whose name the child bore during the marriage.
  • The effect of frequent or random changes of name.

Once a specific order granting the name change is obtained, an application can then be made to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages seeking the name change.

Our family lawyers are able to assist you with whatever option you choose, by drafting the court documents and attending the court hearings. If you are seeking to change your child’s name following separation, contact Cairns Family Law Group for advice tailored to your situation.

Want to meet the team? Book a consult and let's chat

Enquiry form

Let's start the conversation