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There are a number of options if a minor (someone under the age of 18) wishes to change their name, or the parents/carers of a minor wish to do so on the minor’s behalf. This may be a decision made in relation to a change in family circumstances, such as upon divorce or remarriage, or simply a personal choice.
A person’s legal name is either the name on their birth certificate, or the name that has been legally adopted following a marriage or civil partnership, or by enrolling a deed poll. Unless there is a child arrangements order or special guardianship order prohibiting it, a child can have a “known as” name different to their legal one. This would mean that the child’s legal name was used on official documentation (such as qualifications and medical records) but indicates that on informal documentation and in day-to-day life the name to be used is the child’s “known as” name.
The register of births is a historic record containing the facts of a child’s birth, including their name and the name of their parents, as they were at the time of the registration. There are, however, limited circumstances in which information on the birth register can be changed. An application for the correction of errors made at the original registration can be made by the person who registered the birth at the same Register Office that that took place. Documentary evidence to show that the child is being raised under a name different to that on the register may be required.
A child’s forename can be also changed on the birth register if the child was baptised under a different name, or if a different name has been regularly used in relation to the child within the first 12 months after the birth was registered. A child’s surname can be changed on their birth certificate from their mother’s surname to their father’s or a double-barrelled combination of both parents’ surnames if their parents marry after birth registration. In this case the birth should be re-registered by both parents attending the Register Office together.
Birth certificates are reissued upon successful application for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), showing a person’s new name and acquired gender, however applicants for a GRC must be 18 years old or over.
Parents/carers can change a child’s name by way of an unenrolled deed poll by instructing a solicitor or a specialist deed poll agency.
An unenrolled deed poll is a simple document using specific wording renouncing an old name and adopting a new one. This acts as proof of the new name but many organisations, including the Passport Office, will not issue documents under a new name on the basis of an unenrolled deed poll. Anyone aged 16 or over can change their name themselves by way of an unenrolled deed poll. An enrolled deed poll requires an application to the Queen’s Bench Division at the Royal Courts of Justice. Some organisations require an enrolled deed poll to change their system details. Once the enrolled deed poll has been sealed the child’s new name will normally appear in public record in the London Gazette, but the court may agree to only publish limited details if there are concerns surrounding publication of their full name.
For further information and advice on this issue, and other family law issues, please contact us for a free initial consultation on 01992 306 616 or 0207 956 2740 or email us.Back to Law Articles