In this extract from the second edition of Marilyn Stowe’s book Divorce and Splitting Up: Advice from a Top Divorce Lawyer, she discusses what to do about children’s names following a divorce.
We are often asked about children’s names. You should know that typically, these should not be changed without agreement from both parents. This rule of thumb applies when the parents are married or divorced, or if the parents did not marry but the father has signed the birth certificate. If you wish to change a child’s name but know that the proposed change will be contested, you should apply to the court.
Tempting as it is to revert to a maiden name or family name without that agreement, it is severely frowned upon by the court and they may even order that the name is changed back. This includes the name used upon the school roll. The court views a child’s name as fundamental to his or her identity. Sudden and controversial name changes do not sit well with judges.
In short, it is your duty to work with the other parent for the best of their children, even during difficult times. Nothing can be more emotional or potentially destructive than proceedings regarding children, but approach the issue as a conflict and that is what will happen. Instead be firm, put your child at the centre of the case and do not be dissuaded from doing what you believe is right for the benefit of your child. It is very difficult to detach your feelings from what is objectively the best for your child. However if you don’t do it, you may find the court doing it for you, and the outcome may not be what you desire.
Download your copy of Divorce & Splitting Up: Advice from a Top Divorce Lawyer for just 99p here. All profits are donated to the Children’s Society.