After the birth of a baby
When a baby is born if the parents are married it is usual for the parents to register the birth of the child and for both of them to be named on the birth certificate. Traditionally in England and Wales the baby’s surname is taken from the Father. It is therefore the norm in our society for a family group to have the same surname i.e. Jones, Patel, McIntosh.
When unmarried couple have a baby then the father does not have an automatic right to have his name placed on the baby’s birth certificate without the agreement of the Mother or a Court Order.
When parents separate or Divorce
After parents separate or Divorce then it is usual for children to retain the name that they were given at birth. Sometimes due to circumstances either Mother or Father may wish to change the child’s surname if the other parent is absent or if circumstances change and the child become part of a step family which the Mother marries into, to name but two examples. It is not as simple and straight forward to change a child’s surname.
If the Mother was not marriage to the Child’s Father and the Child’s Father’s name was not on the birth certificate, and no application or Order has been made for Parental Responsibility then the Mother is able to change the Child’s name by a Deed without the consent of the Father.
If the Father of the child does have Parental Responsibility for that child then the Mother would have to obtain permission from the Father to change the Child’s name even if the Father does not take an active role in the child’s life. If the Father objects to the name change then it is possible for the Mother to make an application to the Court for a Change of Name, when considering the application the Court has to consider what is in the best interests of the child.
If your circumstances are that the Father/Mother has no contact with the child and has not done so for a significant amount of time, whilst their step-father has effectively assisted in raising them for the majority of their life, the Court may consider it is in the child’s best interests to change their surname. Whilst on the other hand if the Father sees their child on a regular basis, then it is more likely that a Court would not consider it to be in the Child’s best interests to change their name. The Court would consider each case on its own merits and it would be advisable to seek legal advice before making an application to the Court for a Solicitors opinion on the merits of your case.