Change a child's name without consent of parent(s)
As a rule you must have permission from everyone that has parental responsibility for a child in order to legally change the child's name. There are however a few circumstances whereby it may be possible to change the child's name without having to obtain consent from one or more people with parental responsibility.
If one parent refuses to give their consent
If a parent refuses to give their consent to a child's change of name the only alternative avenue available is to apply to the Family Courts for an order granting you leave to change the child's name. The court will only grant such an order if it is satisfied that it is in the child's best interests to do so.
If you are considering making an application to the Family Courts for permission to change your child's name without consent from another parent you should seek professional legal advice.
If you are unable to locate a parent
If, despite your best efforts, you have been unable to obtain consent to change your child's name from a parent because they are absent and their whereabouts are unknown, it may be possible for you to proceed without their permission:
Changing a child's surname
If you wish to change your child's surname and you are unable to obtain consent from one parent because they are absent and their whereabouts are unknown you must write a covering letter, to be sent to all organisations along with the deed poll, explaining that the parent in question does not have regular contact with the child and that you do not know where they currently live. You must include details of the measures you have taken to try to obtain their consent such as writing to their last known address and contacting any friends or relatives you are aware of.
Note: While we may issue a deed poll for a child where the applicant does not have the consent of everyone with parental responsibility, we cannot guarantee that it will be accepted by all organisations. The only way to ensure that the name change will be accepted by everyone in such circumstances is to apply for a court order authorising the change of name.
Changing a child's forenames
If you only wish to change your child's forenames (their first name and/or any middle names) you are legally entitled to do so without the consent of an absent parent under the provisions of the Children Act. You should include with your deed poll a letter explaining that the other parent is absent and detail the attempts you have made to make contact with them.
Articles in this sectionParental consent requirements
What is parental responsibility?
Who has parental responsibility for my child?
Can I change my child's name without full parental consent? (viewed)
Can a birth certificate be updated?
Letters of consent examples and templates