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High Court allows woman to change her sons’ surname

A mother of three year-old twins has been allowed to change their surnames after their father began blogging about the family’s acrimonious split.

In Re F, the parents in question had married in 2013, before separating in April last year. The children had lived with their mother since the split and had seen their father on only a few limited occasions, most recently under Cafcass observation in November.

Sitting in the Family Court at Preston, Judge Ross Duggan said the husband had become caught up in litigation regarding the children and had engaged in “bizarre conduct”.

He saw himself as a “victim” and “martyr” said the judge, and had maintained a “protest blog” which he updated regularly, while neglecting his sons at Christmas and on their birthdays.

He made derogatory comments about the mother, the judge explained, both on his blog and elsewhere.

“The father has recently taken to referring to the mother as a drug-addicted alcoholic surrogate who has suffered from sexually transmitted diseases. This is the terminology of his blog and it is the terminology in which he has communicated with the welfare agencies.”

The father sent this description of the mother to all 723 nurseries in the mother’s home country, and even posted personal details of his children on the blog, including their names and a medical report about a penile deformity. He also featured extensive details of the litigation between the parents.

The father’s campaign, in which he had “let himself down”, had affected the mother and been “severely damaging” to the twins, the judge concluded.

“I cannot allow a situation in which the children at an older age and their friends can chance upon web based insults to the mother, descriptions of the penis, or anything else that the father decides to publish from time to time in association with their name.”

The mother applied for an earlier interim change of name to be made permanent and Judge Ross Duggan granted her request, saying it was “necessary” and “proportionate” to do so.

“It seems I cannot realistically stop the father’s activities at source but I can stop the harmful consequences, which are, of course, associated with the identification of this material alongside the names of the children.”

Read the full judgement here.

Divorced or separated parents normally require court permission to change their children’s surnames. Such permission is only granted when it is thought to be in children’s best interests.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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