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Deciding for yourself what's in a name?
People sometimes wish to change their names for a number of reasons. Perhaps their relationship has recently ended or they simply don’t like their name.
Q. I want to change my name, how do I do it?
A. Assuming that you are an adult, you are free to make changes to your own name as you wish.
The only restrictions on this are ones with public policy, for example names that would be offensive or rude.
In order to affect a change of name, you need simply to start using the new name. However, most organisations will require evidence that you have changed your name and it is possible to do this in one of two ways. The first is to contact a solicitor and ask them to prepare a Change of Name Deed which will set out your old name and your new name and confirm that you wish to be known only by your new name.
The second is to complete a Deed Poll which will then need to be registered.
Q. I have just got married, how do I change my name to that of my new husband?
A. You should only need to provide a certified copy of your marriage certificate as evidence of your new name. However, it will very much depend on the individual organisation’s policy as to whether or not they will accept this.
Q. I have just been divorced and want to change my name from that of my ex-husband, how do I do this?
A. Once again, a copy of your Decree Absolute may suffice for some organisations, but others may wish you to complete a Change of Name Deed or a Deed Poll in order to confirm that you are indeed converting back to your maiden name.
Q. Is it different for children?
A. Yes the procedure is different for children. You will need to consider the wishes of everyone who has parental responsibility for the child and seek their permission to change the child’s name.
If they agree to change their name then it is good practice to evidence this by a Change of Name Deed or by completing a Deed Poll.
If no agreement can be reached between you then, if you still wish to change the child’s name you will need to apply to court under the Children Act 1989 for a Specific Issue Order.
The Court will then consider which name the child should be known by and their paramount consideration within this will be what is in the child’s best interest.
They commonly consider the child’s links with their paternal and maternal families together with what the child is used to being called.
Q. What if my ex has changed my child’s name without my consent?
A. If you cannot reach an agreement with your ex to change the child’s name back and evidence this by completion of a Change of Name Deed or Deed Poll, then you will need to make an application to Court.
Once again you should apply for a Specific Issue Order under the Children Act 1989.
The court will also consider what is in the child’s best interest in the circumstances.