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Can I change my child's surname after separation?

Written on the 19 January 2012 by Matthew Carney

In NSW if you and your former partner agree to change your child's name, all that is needed to make the change is to file an 'Application for a Change of Name' with the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages.

However what happens if you cannot agree on what name your child should have?

There have been many cases before the Court commenced by parents who cannot agree on what surname their child should use. This often happens following separation or upon a parent wanting to use the surname of a new partner.

A Court can make Orders to stop you or your former partner from using a different specific surname and can also make Orders requiring you or your former partner to ensure that your child is only known by a specific surname.

If an application to change your child's name is made the Court will take into consideration the following matters:

1. The welfare of your child – this is the primary consideration
2. The advantages, both short term and long term, to your child if their name remains as it is
3. The short and long term effects of a change to your child's surname
4. The time that your child has with both you and your former partner
5. The degree of identification that your child has with each parent and also any other children of you and your partner
6. Any embarrassment likely to be experienced by your child if their name is changed
7. Any confusion of identity that may arise for your child, if their name is changed or not changed; and
8. The effect of frequent or random changes of name and if there have been changes of your child's name in the past.

All change of name applications are decided on a case by case basis. The best interests of your child will always be the primary consideration and will override the wishes of both parents. While the wishes of your child will be taken into account, the best interests of your child in consideration of the above factors will determine whether an application is successful.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call us on (02)  4904 8000 or send an email to enquiries@turnbullhill.com.au

Author: Matthew Carney

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