Clients commonly ask about having their child’s name changed to include both parents’ surnames after separation. It is generally the mother who seeks the name change so that her surname can be added to the child’s surname.
In order to have a child’s name (Christian name and/or surname) changed in South Australia, an application needs to be made to Births, Deaths and Marriages. The Application must be made with the consent of the child and both parents.
If the child is too young to be able to comprehend the effect of the name change, a change of name can still be applied for but there are some extra steps involved in the process.
To find out whether your child is of the age in which consent is not required, you need to seek advice from a ‘qualified person’; a solicitor qualifies as one of those persons. Alternatively you can seek assistance from a Births, Deaths and Marriages staff member, Justice of the Peace or a Police Officer.
As long as both parents consent and the child consents or an exemption is given due to the child’s age the application can be lodged and processed.
So what happens when one parent won’t consent to the change of name?
If a parent will not consent to the change of name, the parent seeking the change of name will need to apply to a court asking for the court to make an order for the change of name.
There are two options in which a parent seeking a change can pursue:
- Make an application to the Magistrates Court seeking for the court to resolve a dispute in relation to a child’s name and/or approve a proposed change of a child’s name; or
- If there are already proceedings for parenting orders regarding the child in the Federal Circuit Court or Family Court, then the party seeking the change can apply to that court to make a determination about the child’s name being changed.
When making its determination the Court will look at what is in the best interests of the child and whether a change of name will be in accord with the child's best interests.
If you are in a situation where you want to change your child’s name you should contact one of our Family Law specialists before making any application. At Andersons our Family Law team can assist you with completing the application for the change of name to Births, Deaths and Marriages and we can assist you with making an application to a court if the other parent won’t provide their consent.