We are divorcing/separating and I want to change the children’s surname- can I?

In simple terms, much will depend on whether the other parent has, what is known as Parental Responsibility. Mothers have Parental Responsibility automatically by virtue of giving birth to the child. Father’s have parental responsibility automatically if their child is born after the 1st of December 2003 and they are named as the father on the child’s birth certificate. Therefore, in circumstances where both parents have parental responsibility one parent cannot change the name of the child without the other parent’s agreement or consent. In the absence of an agreement then an application may be made to the Court to request that the child’s surname be changed.

Even if a father does not have Parental Responsibility, recent law has suggested that if only the mother has parental responsibility, the father should still be contacted and in the event of a disagreement, an order from the Court must be sought before changing the name.

Further, if the child is over the age of 16, the child’s consent is also required.