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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. One of these options is using a legal document known as a deed poll to record the minor’s new name.
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.
An enrolled deed poll for a minor requires the written consent of everyone with Parental Responsibility for that child and, if the child is 17 or 18 years old, permission from the minor themselves that they are aware of and give consent for the name change application. Sometimes that consent cannot be obtained, perhaps because of the refusal for one or more people holding Parental Responsibility to provide their consent, or when the whereabouts of those with Parental Responsibility are unknown and reasonable steps to establish contact have failed. In this instance, following attempts to reach agreement between those with Parental Responsibility, an application to the Family Court can be made for a specific issue order requesting permission to apply for an unrolled deed poll. The applicant(s) would need to demonstrate that the name change would be in the best interests of the child for the order to be granted, measured against the welfare checklist in the Children Act 1989.
Four forms need to be completed as part of the application for an enrolled deed poll for a minor, which can be accessed as one file on the .gov.uk website along with guidance notes. Two of these forms – the affidavit of best interest and the statutory declaration – need to be sworn before a solicitor, Commissioner for Oaths or a Senior Court Officer (for which there will usually be a small charge). The statutory declaration is completed by someone who has known the minor and the minor’s parents – or those with Parental Responsibility – for more than 10 years, who is not related to them, who is a home owner and who is a British or Commonwealth Citizen. If nobody has known the parents and the minor for more than 10 years, an additional Affidavit must be included with the other forms explaining the reasons why.
Completed forms are sent to the Royal Courts of Justice along with the court fee (at the time of writing £42.44). Applications for the change of name of a minor will be referred to the Senior Master for permission to grant the change of name. Once the deed poll has been sealed it will be posted back to the applicant as confirmation of a legal change of name, who will also receive a copy of the London Gazette in which the notice of name change is published. The enrolled deed poll, or certified copies thereof, can thereafter be used as proof of the minor’s new legal name to any organisations requiring it.
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