The Royal baby has finally arrived and, despite much speculation about the length of time for which he might remain nameless, Kate and Wills wasted little time in announcing the name as George Alexander Louis. Whilst I have no doubt that the future King's name is here to stay, it made me think about my own practice, and the numerous queries I have had over the years about changing the name of a child.
Registering the birth
A child's father or mother has a duty to register the birth and a father who is not married to the mother can only register the birth and be named in the register as the father if:
- He jointly signs the register with the mother;
- He and the mother sign declarations that he is the father; or
- A court declares that he is the father and the mother registers the birth.
What if you want to change the name?
Changing the name of a child on their birth certificate can only be done by someone who has parental responsibilities for the child. This will usually be the child's parents if the parents are married, or the child's mother if the parents are not married, although for children born from 4 May 2006, an unmarried father automatically acquires parental responsibilities in respect of a child if he is named on the child's birth certificate. Alternatively, he can acquire parental responsibilities and rights through a parental responsibilities agreement or court order. Where both parents have parental responsibilities in respect of a child, both must sign the relevant form requesting the name change.
The forms can be obtained from the General Register Office for Scotland website.
- Form 21 is the form for recording of forename(s) or change of forename(s) of child under twelve months of age; and
- Form 23 is the form for recording of change of forename(s) or surname(s) of child under 16 years of age.
Alternatively, you can change the name of a child informally in Scotland by way of a Statutory Declaration. A Statutory Declaration is a statement recording an intention to abandon an old name and adopt a new one. A parent of a child under the age of 16 years can sign a Statutory Declaration on behalf of the child. This document must be witnessed by a Notary Public or a Justice of the Peace.
If you have any queries about changing the name of a child, or would like legal advice in relation to parental responsibilities or separation, please contact the Family Law Team at Drummond Miller.