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Changing a Child’s Name

Some relationships come, and go. Children might have multiple siblings to different fathers and/or mothers, and it is not uncommon for a change to a child’s surname to be contemplated.  There can be valid arguments for and against such a change, and in the context of blended families, such matters frequently require determination by Judges in the family courts.

An order to change a child’s name is a parenting order and therefore must only be made in the child’s best interests, after taking into account considerations in Section 60CC of the Family Law Act.   Over the years, cases have also distilled a number of practical factors to be considered when considering the merits of a change.  These include:

  1. Any embarrassment likely to be experienced by the child if his or her name is different from the parent with residence or care and control;
  2. Any confusion of identity which may arise for the child if his or her name is changed, or is not changed.
  3. The effect any change in surname may have on the relationship between the child and the parent whose name the child bore during the relationship;
  4. The effect of frequent or random changes of name;
  5. The contact that the non-custodial parent has had and is likely to have in the future with the child;
  6. The degree of identification that the child has with their non-custodial parent; and
  7. The degree of identification which the child or children have with the parent with whom they live.

If you need advice on such issues, contact our Family Law Team.

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