For some people at the end of a bad marriage or long-term relationship it is their wish to change their name or their child wishes to change their name. Rachael Scharrer, divorce expert and founder of Divorce Answered.com.au, knows first-hand the desire, challenges and how to change a child’s name. Rachael was and still is the primary carer of two children and is the sole financial provider for the children. Accordingly, she wanted her name reflected in the children’s lastnames post-separation. When Rachael approached her ex-spouse, he flatly refused. After some resistance and time, he realised that it wasn’t such a big issue and agreed to the name change.
Most parents don’t want to know about what another person has done, they want to know how to do it themselves. Here is some relevant and practical information:
As with all government documents, including those pertaining to Births, Deaths and Marriages, application forms must be filled out correctly. No matter what type of relationship that you are currently in or have been in, there are three ways to change your child’s name when both parents are alive and named on the birth certificate.
The first way is by mutual consent. This means that both parents agree to the child’s name change and jointly sign the one name change form. It is the easiest, cheapest and fastest way to change your child’s name.
The second way is if one parent was awarded ‘Sole Parental Responsibility.’ When parents separate, they default to having Equal Shared Parental Responsibility. Unless there has been a court order to change this status, specifically to Sole Parental Responsibility, then you will have to proceed with changing your child’s name by consent or by agitating the Family Court.
The third and final way is by Court Order from the Family Court. Currently, the Family Law Act of 1975 does not have any provisions for name changes which makes this path potentially more complicated, protracted, contentious and expensive. The Court Ordered name change will not be made to Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry – rather it will ‘award’ one parent the right to make the name change or order the child to be known by a particular name. The Presiding Family Court Judge appointed to your case takes a number and combination of considerations in to account. They include:
Thinking that it would be ‘more convenient’ if your child had a different lastname is not an appropriate reason to proceed with a name change.
So what new lastname will your child have? There are so many options!! Here are a few:
Once you have either Sole Parental Responsibility, mutual consent with the child’s other parent or relevant Court Order, you will have to fill out an application with your individual state/territory’s Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry.