If you are divorced and have any children there may come a point that might wish to change the name of those children, and if so, given the legal complexities, you should certainly consult your family lawyers.
The reason for that is that even though you may have sole responsibility for the child, there are a number of legal requirements that must be met before you will be allowed to change the name of your child.
Let us start with how the basic process works in Western Australia, and in the first instance, you would only make an application here if that is where the child’s birth was registered. If their birth was registered in a different state, your application needs to be made there.
If they were registered in WA, your application needs to be sent to the Western Australian Registry of Birth Deaths and Marriages. It is here where the registrar will make the ultimate decision with regard to your application.
It should be noted that there are several different application forms which are each applicable to the specific reason why you wish to change your child’s name, and what details you wish to change. This which refers to whether it is their first name, or their family name that is changing.
There are only certain people who are eligible to apply to change a child’s name and these are both the child’s parents, assuming they both signed the child’s birth certificate. One parent can apply after divorce or separation if they were the only parent to sign the birth certificate.
They can also apply singly if the child’s other parent signed their birth certificate but has since died. The final way it is possible for a single parent to apply is if the Family Court has issued an order that states it would be in the child’s best interest for their name to be changed.
The most common reason for the court order to be requested and issued is if the child’s other parent who signed the birth certificate refuses to give permission for their name to be changed. The court will consider, as they always do, whether it is in the child’s best interests to grant the order, which negates the need for the other parent’s permission
In terms of their age, you can usually change a child’s given name if they are younger than 1 year old, you are the child’s parent who has married after they were born, or you wish to include the child’s other parent on their birth certificate.
If you want to change a child’s given name if they are older than 1 year old, or you wish to change their family name, regardless of their age, then you must make what is termed a ‘Full Application For A Change Of Name‘.
If you do have to go to court you will be expected to provide details of the reasons for changing the child’s name. One of the most common is remarriage and wishing the child to have the same family name as its birth parent and stepparent.
Other questions that need to be answered are whether the change of name will cause any confusion or embarrassment for the child, and whether or not it will create difficulties in their relationship with their absent parent.