It’s amazing how often this comes up. And how many people will justify this. And will argue the toss. But this is a very simple one.
When can someone change the names of children? Here is a comprehensive list detailing every way a child’s name can be legally changed.
- With the agreement of everyone who has PR for the child.
- A court order saying so.
- That’s it. There is no number 3.
This subject comes up with a weary inevitability. So do the people we speak to who have this problem. We’ve had 2 today so far which is why this post is on this topic.
Pro tip: Deed polls don’t count. They’re not worth the paper they’re written on, especially so if there is lots of gold leaf, excitingly-shaped edges, fancy writing and lots of legalese that makes it look very, very important. If you have one for your child…you’ve wasted your money. If you have one and you want to do it legally you need to go to the Royal Courts of Justice to `enrol’ it…and you’ll need one of the extensive list above to do it.
Otherwise you may as well not have bothered.
Now I know what you’re going to say `Ah…my kids have a legal name and a known as’ name. So it’s OK’. Nope. Doesn’t work like that (unless you’re in Scotland and then it does).
Or you’ll say `I told the school/doctor/whoever and they were fine with it’. That’ll be because they don’t know or don’t care about the law. It’s probably the first one out of the list. Getting away with something doesn’t mean it is legal.
Or possibly `My kids chose to be called by their name’. Doesn’t matter. Check the list above.
Or maybe `The other parent isn’t about – so I can do what I like’. No. You’ll need to go to court to get an order in that case.
So what do you do if you find yourself in this situation? As always the first piece of advice is `Don’t stick your head in the sand‘. And as always the longer you leave it, the harder it gets to change things. As soon as you learn this happened contact the school, the doctor, where ever else and ask them to change to your kids’ real names. Maybe take their birth certificate in. Explain firmly but nicely what you would like to happen. If they do and it is left at that…great. You don’t need to do anything else.
If not…it’s time to go to court. You’ll need to make an application for a Specific Issues Order.
So it’s as simple as that. Either way – and I am aware I am repeating myself here – doing nothing is just about the worst thing you can do. A stitch in time and all that, OK?